El Alto–Lake Titicaca Pollution Management

The objectives of this five-year project, funded by USAID/Bolivia and managed by IRG, are to reverse degradation and reduce threats to key biodiversity targets of the El Alto – Lake Titicaca axis in Bolivia and to improve the environmental health and quality for residents of targeted areas within the axis.

The Manoff Group leads communications and public engagement with all stakeholders, supported by a knowledge management program that includes designing and maintaining a project website, overseeing a monitoring program, and preparing and disseminating lessons learned. Selected Manoff Group activities include:

  • Mapping key stakeholders that produce and are affected by industrial and domestic source pollution
  • Designing and conducting mass media campaigns on the Lake’s potential benefits to residents
  • Implementing behavior change campaigns for the industrial sectors and local residents
  • Publicizing watershed pollution sources and water quality information
  • Assisting the project team in conducting a Rapid Rural Assessment of the Cohana Bay region
  • Designing and conducting an umbrella awareness campaign on biodiversity benefits, threats and solutions, identifying cultural ties of communities to the lake that could be utilized in the campaign
  • Undertaking a campaign to “Bring El Alto to the lake” to engage stakeholders in pollution prevention

These are critical goals: polluted waters feeding the lake sometimes flow red or black and are too contaminated for humans or animals to drink. School children are warned of concentrated levels of poisons and toxic metals in the lake’s duckweed and bulrushes. Local communities along the lakeshore struggle to maintain their health and eke out livelihoods. The visible causes of the contamination are industrial and urban pollution from El Alto and other cities in the upper watershed, combined with poor household waste management and agricultural and livestock practices. But the root causes of Lake Titicaca’s degradation are more complex, stemming from governance that has failed to guide urban growth or regulate and control pollution at its source.


The Project will use a landscape approach to the watershed management of the El Alto – Lake Titicaca Axis, integrating biodiversity conservation with pollution management and use of land-use best practices, and unifying activities and actors across the basin region to achieve shared goals. Key locations are targeted that are under extreme threat and have already mobilized considerable attention and resources on the part of government, civil society, and donors.  The project team adheres to three main principles:

  • Encompass all segments of society
  • Strengthen role of women, indigenous groups & other vulnerable groups
  • Treat Natural Resources Management as a continuous & evolutionary process