Day 46 – Circles of Sustainability Results

Day 46 – Circles of Sustainability Results

My computer completely died and my charger got lost.  So now it´s a tablet and internet cafes until next week when we come back to the US… Communication will be sparse but lots of work is getting done here in Bolivia.  Final presentations, meetings, strategizing and new projects… It will all be coming here soon!

Here´s a brief overview of the Circles of sustainability study results, sans the final image which is having formatting issues with the old PCs here.  More explanation coming next week…

Social – (orange) In Bolivia there is a growing amount of distrust and disappointment in the national government, specifically the leadership of President, Evo Morales. Though his government improved life in the countryside bringing water, electricity, education, roads and healthcare facilities to some of Bolivia’s poorest people, his current policies favoring large development over the environment and are inhibiting the freedom of expression. Part of this study was cancelled due to political upheavals aimed at the Morales government which prevented my counterparts from working with me in the Uyuni-Potosi region of quinoa production. The other aspects of social included the community’s ability to work together and trust each other. These areas were low due to habit of mistrust which has roots in the colonial area when people’s original customs, governance and culture were banned what ensued was a period of repression which though many advances have been made to honor and reinstate the indigenous traditions, is still not fully healed. In addition, areas of health and education are still developing and can use improvement in areas of access and quality. (Note: in subsequent analysis by our Circles Team in Australia, the orange coloring was replaced by yellow.  Further analysis of this sector will ensue in an academic paper and book coming out soon.)

Environment – (yellow) In general there was a positive feel for the natural environment largely due to the benefits of the organic production. More attention was placed on composting, recycling and keeping the soil and homes clean. However climate change was problematic for people as was consistent access to basic resources such as gas (for cooking), electricity and drinking water. (green) The wildlife was particularly interesting, because though many people commented on its negative aspect with birds and rabbits eating their quinoa, they ranked it as positive because wildlife was intact and present.

Economy – (yellow). Here there is little variation. People are feeling weak though not hopeless due to the fluctuating quinoa prices resulting in the unexpected 60% drop in value from the previous year. This effects all economic activities as the quinoa earnings slow down, so does local spending in other areas. In addition, the climate has made quinoa yields hard to predict, resulting in people being worried both about the low price for the quinoa and this year’s low yields as well. Currently people are looking at their 2014-2015 harvest as a financial loss. However, people are used to fluctuations and are not giving up (which will put the category into the orange or red zone), though they are worried.

Culture – (green) In general the indigenous culture, practiced in the countryside is robust and well respected. There is much value and pride in indigenous customs, language, dress and expression amongst all populations in relation to place, age, gender and level of education. In addition, there were many village celebrations taking place during this study which could have influenced people’s strongly positive feelings of their culture. Areas of particular strengths included cultural value in general, language, festivals, and the sharing of indigenous knowledge.