Water and sewerage services to the twin cities of La Paz-El Alto were privatised in 1997 with a 30-year concession awarded to the Lyonnaise des Eaux consortium, Aguas del Illimani (AISA). At this time around 93% and 83% of their respective populations had access to some form of piped water. Over the first five years, Aguas del Illimani committed to install 71,752 new household connections, 'equivalent to 100% coverage', in El Alto, the poorer of the cities. The most recent figures indicate that coverage has reached close to 99% in La Paz-El Alto.
In Bolivia the national water regulator, SISAB, has now awarded 29 concession contracts, though only one is to a private company, AISA, with the remainder going to municipal or cooperative companies. In an environment of political turmoil, SISAB has struggled to convince a sceptical public that regulation is a tool that can facilitate a sustainable and improving water supply service. In spite of equalling or exceeding its contractual obligations (by one interpretation) Aguas del Illimani has recently (February 2005) been informed that its contract would be revoked and planning is underway for some form of municipal water company to be established to take over the management of the La Paz-El Alto water and sewerage services.
Center for Water Science, Cranfield University, UK, 8 pp.