In the city of Cochabamba, in central Bolivia, the price of water had soared by over 200% under the management of a private consortium. A public uprising and mass mobilisation of Bolivia’s indigenous population, known as the ‘Cochabamba Water Wars’ of 2000, successfully brought an end to the increasing water tariffs, securing a landmark victory against the commodification and exploitation of Bolivia’s water resources.
Ultimately, this action paved the way for a great period of social, political and economic reform, and the voting of Evo Morales to power. A new Constituent Assembly was elected to draft a new constitution and a referendum was finally held on the 25 January 2009, where the new constitution was ratified with a 61% ‘yes’ vote. Within the new Constitution, water was formally recognised as a ‘basic human right’.
Bolivia is also known for its ‘Law for the Rights of Mother Earth’ from 2010 where one of the rights within is the “protection of water from contamination.” Recently however, concerns have been raised over fracking plans in Bolivia and whether such action would be compatible with Bolivian law. The question is under discussion at the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature.