Our Approach

The development approach employed by the Bolivian Ngo Suma Jayma minimizes the potential for conflict through an ongoing, yet at times intermittent, working relationship with small communities and their corresponding local governing officials in multiple municipal jurisdictions in the Andean high plains. Dedicated to implementing technologically appropriate water projects (e.g., gravity water supply systems and locally made hand pumps), Suma Jayma’s defining strength is its ability to be autonomous in deciding whether or not to continue implementing future community projects within a given municipal jurisdiction, based on the performance of the local government officials.

By earning the trust of its international funding partner WEFTA and others, Suma Jayma is able to determine whether to continue working in a given municipal jurisdiction or to put on temporary hold the start-up of any new water projects. An indefinite postponement may be required until the municipality resumes best practices of transparency and accountability. More effective, transparent, local government, as well as increased citizen participation in local democratic processes, is the result. Conflict caused by corrupt development practices is minimized.

Meanwhile, at the benefiting community level, all participating families perform the manual labor required for their project, from excavating wells for hand pumps or trenching waterlines with picks and shovels. Moreover, each benefiting family contributes funds to the project, typically equivalent to a week to two weeks' of average income for a rural Andean subsistence farmer, to help pay for the project. Through shared sacrifice, a sense of ownership emerges, along with a renewed sense of community ability to be agents in meeting their own needs.

An Aymara himself, like the villagers whom he helps, Braulio Rojas, in his role as director of Suma Jayma, sees the NGO’s efforts as serving two principal aims: to meet the critical need of rural indigenous families for access to improved water and sanitation in their homes, and to foster good governance at the level of the local drinking water committee and the municipal government.

excerpt from the 2010 Catholic Relief Services Publication, "Water and Conflict: Incorporating Peacebuilding into Water Development"