From 8,500 Feet Above Sea Level to 16,500 Feet Above Sea Level

Mano a Mano’s counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo completed a new 54-mile road in Cotagaita, Bolivia in 2008 – still our longest road project to date. The Cotagaita road goes from 8,500 feet above sea level to 16,500 feet above sea level, cutting through the mountainous terrain of the Andean Altiplano.

Arriba en la montana; High up on the mountain

Cars on the Cotagaita road.

Cars on the Cotagaita road.

Prior to the completion of the Cayti-to-Sagrario connecting road, farmers traveled an astonishing 124 miles on a circuitous road through the mountains to reach the miner’s market, a grueling 15-hour drive by truck. Many farmers walked across the mountains with their donkeys for three days to complete this journey. Now this important market lies within 9-16 miles of Cotagaita-area farmers, reducing their travel time to an hour.

“We Had Spent a Fortune Before Mano a Mano Arrived”

The municipality had tried to complete this project for 12 years, with no success. At the dedication of the road, Ing. Waldo Martinez Pereira, Mayor of Cotagaita, said: “We had spent a fortune before Mano a Mano had arrived to be able to construct this stretch of road, without success. And when I say a fortune, I mean millions of Bolivianos (1 million Bolivianos is about $145,000), which means that we were unable to meet other pressing needs such as drinking water, basic sanitation, and health care. I think that with this road we will be much better positioned to meet the needs of the local communities.” (4:04 minute mark of the video.)

Video: Cotagaita Road Project