Increasing Water Access in Laguna Sulti, Bolivia

Last week, our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo began work on a water project to increase the capacity of subsistence farmers in Laguna Sulti, Bolivia to produce food by improving their access to water. This expansion will increase the water-holding capacity of the Laguna Sulti reservoir so water for irrigation and household use can reach more families and make additional water available for current irrigators, improving food security throughout the region. We are planning to complete this project by the end of 2019.

Starting work on the Laguna Sulti water reservoir expansion, August 2019.

Working with the Community

Every Mano a Mano project is a partnership, and we work closely with the community throughout the process. The video below is our staff talking with the community to go over the project details and timeline as we begin construction:

Project Details

Mano a Mano responded to community requests to address severe water shortage by completing a reservoir in Laguna Sulti in 2007; this reservoir serves 600 families (3,600 people) who now form its Irrigators Association. The Association schedules distribution from the reservoir to crop land through earthen channels, as water availability permits. 

The reservoir has brought significant benefits to families of the Laguna Sulti Irrigators Association. Crop production on irrigated fields has nearly doubled. Irrigators Association families have asked us to expand their reservoir so that: 1) they can water their entire plot rather than just a portion; 2) when children marry, water access can be extended to them; 3) 80 new families (480 people) from nearby communities can be added to the Association. 

The reservoir is built on flat land through which the Laguna Sulti River runs. Excess water is channeled through an overflow back into the river. Excavating one full meter from the floor of a 12.5 acre portion of the basin will capture an additional 700,000 cubic meters of water. Excavated dirt will be used to build up crop land in the surrounding area. During the rainy season the reservoir will fill twice as farmers draw down water to irrigate. 

With additional water, the 600 current Association families will be able to increase the amount of land they till and add 80 new families from nearby communities. Expansion will approximately double the number of irrigated acres.

Mano a Mano Water Projects

Access to water is a high priority for everyone. Mano a Mano partners with rural Bolivian communities to complete water projects that provide more consistent access to water for themselves, crops, and livestock. The type of project varies depending on the size, location, and geography of the community. We have constructed 9 large agricultural water reservoirs47 surface wells, and 320 water ponds (atajados). We also purchased well drilling equipment to be able to construct deep wells, like this well in Chinyata that was completed in June 2019. Access to water improves crop yields and quality for Bolivian farmers, which improves nutrition and can double or triple a family’s income.