Day 68 – Anzaldo – circles analysis

Day 68 – Anzaldo – circles analysis

Students parade a model airplain in Bolivia's colors in celevration of the country of Bolivia's  birthday, August 6th.

Students parade a model airplain in Bolivia’s colors in celevration of the country of Bolivia’s birthday, August 6th.

Anzaldo, a small high valley town has a small economy of local production of foods for family consumption. Production includes fava beans, corn, potatoes, wheat, quinoa, chickens and sheep. In addition there are some fruit trees in the region producing peaches and apples. Spanning a region covering ___ (size) and ranging in altitude from ___ to ___, Anzaldo has a population of _____ and is known for its regional hospital and education center which includes an internando (boarding school) with 200 students. In total 770 students are enrolled in the school system, with 77 graduating this year. Migration as well as drought are two challenges this colonial town is facing. Many families now live in the city of Cochabamba an hour-and-a-half away, or have migrated to Argentina, Chile or Spain in search of work. They maintain houses in the town of Anzaldos and the countryside, returning for holiday festivals and to farm the land. It is estimated that 40% of Anzaldo’s population live in this migratory way. Over the years, average rainfall has dropped 20% in particular affecting quinoa production. Quinoa in Anzaldo is intercropped with potatoes and corn to help protect the more delicate plants from frost and insects. It is usually produced for personal consumption with surpluses sold in local markets. Traditionally, farmers in Anzaldo, like many of the high valley towns maintained several varieties of quinoa which they planted in different places according to rainfall, elevation, and exposure to cold. However, due to migration and the drought, many farmers are no longer planting quinoa and this knowledge is getting lost. The Agronomy Department of the local state university of San Simon is maintaining a seed bank and developing a technical training program to help to strengthen Anzaldo’s local quinoa production
The Circles of Sustainability study was conducted in Anzaldo from August 4th to 9th, 2015. In a one hour interactive, demonstration, I trained a total of 77 students in two separate graduating classes (approximately 38 students per class) to conduct the survey with family and community members. Each student was given two surveys to complete over the weekend when many would be returning to their home communities. They were asked to pay attention to the gender and age diversity of their samples making sure to survey a male and female member and to include an age difference. In exchange for their participation in surveying, the students would receive a donation of 300Bs to their end of the year class trip. The students were familiar with surveys having completed an environmental survey study the year prior. In total 110 surveys were completed in Anzaldo representing a 71% rate of return.
Circles Survey
The Circles studies create a visual story of how people are perceiving their wellbeing in a particular moment of time. The data is based on a scale of 1 for very bad and and 5 for excellent. People are asked to provide basic demographic information such as age, education, family size, use of loans, property ownership, and political participation. Then they respond to 33 opinion questions in the Circles’ four study areas: culture, social, economic, environment. The questions are similar to those used in Circles studies worldwide but are modified to best reflect the realities of rural Bolivia. For example, in other Circles models the section “social” is called “political” but due to cultural sensitivities in Bolivia about engagement is politics which is often assumed to be activism, I re-named the section “social” since the data is really directed more towards a social assessment of one’s well-being rather than a political statement. In addition, Circle’s surveys have a seven point range of opinion, however this would have been too complicated for the rural Bolivian farmers who were not used to this type of assessment so I modified the range to be just five points However, for assessment and comparison purposes, we wanted to maintain the seven-point range so a schematic was created to expand the five ranges into seven.
The Circles survey was used in three different quinoa growing regions: Anzaldo, Quillacas and Salinas. Though there was little variance between gender, age and education, there was statistically significant variation between places.
There were some inconsistencies in the way the surveys were competed. In the Economy section, there were seven questions which applied to specific industries; mining, herding, tourism, handicrafts, non-quinoa farming, quinoa farming and business. Very few, if any of the people in Salinas work in mining, though several surveys had data indicating that perhaps they did. This will need further follow up for clarification. In addition it was unclear which community, if any, the people surveyed were from and if they house they had was in the town, community or both. Lastly many people indicated that they only spoke Quechua, even though the survey was being presented in Spanish. I suspect that there was a misunderstanding in this question with most of the people using the term Castellano to refer to the Spanish language so either the term Spanish was not properly recognized, there was an assumption that Spanish meant “no quechua” or in fact there are quite a few mono-lingual people in Anzaldo who only speak Quechua. Historically this would be found more amongst the women who had little formal education (which is conducted in Spanish). In the surveys both men and women with a formal education indicated they only spoke Quechua. Existing regional data can verify the language used in this region. For the Circles analysis, the information about the specific industry was dropped since no one place in the study had all of these industries and response rates were low. However this data per industry is useful in other studies and analysis. It will be safe to assume that at least half of the people surveyed lived in the local communities (as opposed to the town). Further studies of the communities themselves will be completed in the December – February 2016-2017.
From a brief, visual overview, the overall economic well-being of Anzaldo is satisfactory, falling in the midrange value of three. People are reporting to have satisfactory levels of economic well being, market access for their products, access to consumer goods, and adequate production for regional/national consumption. However the community showed a stronger dissatisfaction (bad) in their production of goods for export (which they do no have any) and economic opportunities to improve one’s economic livelihood. This negative opinion of opportunity is also reflected in the migration rates, where people are tending to move elsewhere for work and opportunities.
The environment also has an overall mid-range onion of being satisfactory. Participants are generally satisfied with their access to drinking water, the state of the local wild-life (rabbits, foxes, birds), community access to energy such as electricity and cooking gas, and recreational spaces. However there is a degree of dissatisfaction with the natural environment in general as well as the presence of environmental contaminate, mostly discarded garbage in the form of plastic bags and discarded containers. Climate change and drought no doubt at behind the negative perception of the natural environment, the weather is less predictable and frosts and hail come at different times than before, damaging crops. In addition, with the improvement of roads and electricity over the last 10 years, more consumer goods are coming to small towns. The increasingly sophisticated packaging such as plastic bags, bottles and laminated containers, especially with refrigerated goods, is causing much environmental contamination. Many municipalities do not have a regular garbage collection service or plan. So often garbage is discarded in the streets or burned.
Culturally, people in Anzaldo are generally satisfied. They feel their culture is adequately valued as is their dress, religion, festivals, family traditions and indigenous knowledge. There is a large presence of the Catholic Church in this town with a church run boarding school and priests from Spain and Venezuela. Often Spanish volunteers come to perform work with for the church in the areas of education and community development. Sunday Church services include songs in Quechua and broadcasts in the main plaza. In addition, there are financial investments which the church makes in the area of education and youth development. The local school has a large supply of sports equipment and the town soccer team is known for its skill and being well prepared.
Socially the town is suffering. Though people have a satisfactory view of education, they feel that the overall political environment in Bolivia is poor, as is the community access to healthcare (even though there are two regional hospitals in the community), the overall physical health of the community, and the ability of community members to make decisions together and to trust each other. There was a recent election and the new mayor had been in office for just a month at the time of the study, so uncertainty in how the mayor will be managing the town might have influenced peoples views. In addition,the mayor mentioned to me that though they have the hospitals, there are not many doctors since city doctors do not want to work in such a rural location and there are not many rural doctors. Overall, more research needs to be done to better understand the poor social climate found in Anzaldo.
In conclusion, the town of Anzaldo is more or less a contented community of small farmers. In comparison to the large quinoa export regions, they are much more satisfied with their steady, local economy and well-being than those who have more earnings, but a less stable economic environment. Culturally they rank lower than their counterparts in the quinoa export regions. Perhaps this is because in the quinoa regions indigenous leadership and pride is much stronger with elected Native Leaders taking active roles in community development. With new agricultural development focus from UMSS and also existing programs from the development organization Pro-INPA, which has an office in Anzaldo, new opportunities can be created. Women also expressed interest in developing stronger local markets and local food processing. This can lead to the creation of a more robust and diverse local economy as well.

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