All of our projects begin when a community expresses their interest in a project either to QBL directly or through a local government office with which QBL has been working. This page will attempt to explain the process by which a project is first developed as a proposal, then evaluated and then funded. We will also explain how often we visit each project to check how it is working out.
Before QBL begins work in a village, we do significant preparation and coordination with the local government (municipalities, similar to counties in the US). The municipal government is responsible for providing funding and expertise for small villages located within their jurisdiction. They are also responsible for developing yearly plans to promote the development of their municipality. QBL wants to respect and encourage this local governance and responsibility. Unfortunately, the funding and expertise is often limited. This is where QBL can provide significant help.
Contacting a Village
Municipalities usually have a list of projects planned for their area. QBL will identify those projects that match our capacities and plan a visit. It usually takes two or three visits before we can schedule a meeting with the whole community–we have to find the community leaders first and they schedule a village meeting (again, we seek to always respect local leadership and work through local authorities).
During the meeting with the whole village, we discuss the project that they had requested through their municipal government, explain what we ask from them in terms of carrying out the project, and explain what we need to do in order to develop the proposal. If it is a water project, we need people familiar with the area to take us to different springs in order to measure the water flow rate. We need to see how many houses require water faucets. We need to take measurements to buy the piping and other materials. Irrigation projects require similar preparations; other projects require less.
Furthermore, we need an accurate number of villagers. Migration to the cities to seek better living conditions is widespread through the Altiplano. Sometimes it is only a father or perhaps an older son. Other times it is a whole family that comes back perhaps once a month, or during planting and harvest seasons. Eventually, these families may only return once a year for special holidays. All of these variables can make it difficult to get an accurate number of families that actually live in a village.
We also do a diagnostic in the community in order to get a better understanding of the living conditions. Basic information such as a house’s construction materials, the presence of basic services or the number of school children, can provide us with important information about how we should prioritize the project.
Finally, once all of this information is compiled into a proposed project, we meet again with the community and ask them to formally indicate thier interest in the project and that they are willing to fulfill their responsibilities once the project is funded. The municipality also signs this document in the case of most projects, since they will provide 30% of the funding. At this point, we know that the project has broad support beginning in the village, with the municipal government as well as our technical staff.
Revising the Project–QBL
The Bolivian Coordinator and Board review the project and give it their “vista buena” before sending it to either the US or the UK for funding. In the US or the UK office (whichever received the project), the proposal is summarized in English and reviewed by the project committee. The project committee makes a recommendation to the respective Board to fund the project or not. The Board then approves the project and minutes our approval.
Starting the Project
Once the funds are transferred to Bolivia, the Bolivian staff writes up a letter and presents the good news to the community. Once again, QBL and the village sign a document affirming our mutual commitments: QBL commits to providing the funding and technical support; the community commits to providing the labor and local building materials, such as rocks and sand for the cement. For those of you with experience in Latin America, seals, stamps and signatures are very important. Note the seals on the picture to the right.
With all of the fanfare and anticipation over, the villagers and QBL can begin the hard work of organizing, digging, building and, once the project is finished, celebrating.