Habitat and environment - a research capacity programme in Bolivia

Last changed: 20 October 2017

In Cochabamba, Bolivia, many urban settlements are built without regulations. These settlements are typically found at the edge of the urban area and are often located in areas not suitable for housing. Moreover, these areas are exposed to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, erosion, water shortage and drought. Discrepancy between land use, natural resources and access to basic services has resulted in high environmental degradation; this situation is strongly represented in marginal urban areas and in rural areas, explaining the high rate of social exclusion and poverty among these households.

The proposed research capacity building programme at Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS) respond to the local needs in Bolivia and aim to strengthen the research environment and research capacity in prioritized disciplines, which in turn will lead to production and application of research knowledge.

Participating partners are also developing the skills on how knowledge from various disciplines can create a solid ground for better understanding of the complex systems and challenges the thematic area of Habitat and Environment. Scientific capacity is expected to be improved specifically in following topics:

  1. The effect of urban compactness on outdoor microclimate: this study is to develop better understanding of the relationship between microclimate and sustainable urban form for peri-urban areas and how these areas could be more compact an efficient as regards land use and infrastructure; PhD thesis entitle: “Climate sensitive housing development in urban areas”. Lund University, Housing Development and Management
  2. Systems and technologies for safe resource recovery and reuse - the assessment of material flows and sanitation management in Cochabamba will provide solutions for maximizing the recycling of valuable resources in a safe way and for minimizing the risks to health and environment; PhD thesis entitle: “Treatment and wastewater reuse in system of crop productions: Microbiological risk assessment on a sub Andean per urban valley of Bolivia”. SLU, Energy and Technology
  3. Learning approach to participatory planning- to reconcile development and conservation needs of human habitats and environment in the Central valley of Cochabamba; PhD thesis entitle: “Planning in the context of weak planning institutions and lack of resources for implementation – the case of Sacaba”. SLU, Rural of Urban and Development
  4. Land use risks assessments and environmental impacts - quantifying the effects of land use on fluxes and pathways for water and contaminants in a urban/peri-urban catchment and parameterizing the existing landscape elements that regulate the fluxes important for identifying risks area for settlements and agriculture activities and subsequently the planning of land use; PhD thesis entitle: “Spatial and temporal variations in water regime and quality in waterways and soils in a peri-urban/rural catchment”. SLU, Soil and Environment
  5. Assessing slope stability and risks associated with land use change in Cochabamba- identify critical factors affecting the vulnerability of the soils to slope instability with main focus on strength, soil moisture and water low path; PhD thesis entitle: “Determination of the susceptibility of the soil to detachment by water-induced forces”. SLU, Soil and Environment

The second component of the program, is the Masters Programme in "Water Management, Habitat and Environment” (currently 16 students participating). The Master programme will also help UMSS institutions to train current and future staff and educate professionals for Bolivian institutions in need of this capacity. Apart from the establishment of education in particular subjects, quality improvement will be achieved in education by training teachers in the supervision of master theses and establishing methods for evaluation of learning outcomes, which will be of direct benefit for teachers and students.

Involved institutions in Bolivia at Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS):

-       The Centre for Planning and Management (CEPLAG)

-       Research Institute of Architecture (IIA)

-       The Centre for Water and Environmental Sanitation (CASA)

-       Centre for Spatial Information Technology (CLAS)

-       School of Agronomy (ETSA)

-       Hydraulic Laboratory

-       Geotechnical Laboratory

Involved institutions in Sweden:

-       SLU, Department of Soil and Environment

-       SLU, Department of Rural of Urban and Development

-       SLU, Department of Energy and Technology

-       Lund University, Housing Development and Management

Coordinator in Bolivia: Carmen Ledo CEPLAG

Coordinator in Sweden: Abraham Joel, Soil and Environment 

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