USAID's departure from Bolivia 'terrible timing' for implementing partners

Bolivian President Evo Morales. Photo by: Santiago Armas / Presidencia de la República del Ecuador / CC BY-NC-SA

USAID implementing partners in Bolivia are bracing for tough times, as illustrated by the case of a two-year grant financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development in the country that came too late.

Days before President Evo Morales announced that USAID was no longer welcome in Bolivia, the agency had notified local partner Fundacion Valles that its $2 million cooperative agreement would be signed in the “next few weeks.”

But now that grant will probably be cancelled, Edgar Guardia, executive director of Fundacion Valles, told Devex upon learning that two other USAID implementing partners — Abt Associates and local partner Prosalud — have been ordered to suspend all existing projects in Bolivia.

Guardia described the situation as “terrible timing.” “It’s very, very unfortunate not only for us but for everybody, for the country as a whole,” he said.

Fundacion Valles’ case highlights how Bolivia’s shocking political decision will affect USAID’s nine implementing partners working in the country to improve improve the health system, protect the environment and help the economy grow.

Other include the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Pan American Health Organization, International Resources Group and Chemonics International.

Devex asked USAID about the fate of the agreement with Fundacion Valles, but the agency refused to comment on this particular case and insisted it has yet to receive formal notice of its expulsion from the country.

The program covered by the grant was supposed to start last year, but it was postponed due to USAID’s budget concerns.

Over the past twelve years, Fundacion Valles has managed projects worth about $30 million in Bolivia, with half of this funding coming from the American aid agency, but the group’s last USAID-funded program ended in September.

The implementing partner is now looking for alternative sources of financing, and hopes to tap other bilateral donors like the Danish International Development Cooperation Agency and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

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About the author

  • John Alliage Morales

    As a former Devex staff writer, John Alliage Morales covered the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community. Prior to joining Devex, John worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data, and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.