SFU Students’ Research

Moncayo, Luis. (2009).“Advancing towards food sovereignty in El Alto, Bolivia: revitalizing the consumption of native, nutritious and agro-ecological food in urban centers.”   

Masters thesis available in the SFU Library.  

Abstract:  Most field research on food sovereignty focuses on food production, circulation and consumption systems in rural communities and on the role of local organizations in sustaining local food systems, livelihoods and the environment. This thesis takes the question of food sovereignty into an urban, consumer-focused context in El Alto, a large city in Bolivia where traditional diets, based on foods of plant origin and low meat consumption, have been replaced by energy dense foods, the so-called “nutrition transition”. This thesis presents food sovereignty as a strategy to counteract the “nutrition transition” in El Alto. The thesis examines the local and structural factors that affect the viability of revitalizing the consumption of native, nutritious and agro-ecological food in the schools of El Alto.


Tegelberg, Catherine. (2009). “Small-scale agriculture in a global market: A comparative case study of Bolivian farmers participating in agrifood supply chains.” 

Masters thesis available in the SFU Library.  

Abstract:  As globalisation draws products from around the world into streamlined value-chains, consumers are simultaneously less connected to the provenance of their food and upstream actors in that chain. Actors such as agrifood producers have little authority to influence the chain or make a viable living from it. Yet the alternatives for many producers in the developing world are often more constricting. This paper compares the barriers faced by small-scale producers in lowland Bolivia before and after they have diversified their livelihoods with an export crop, coffee. The results of the case study show that while some of the problems faced by farmers endure regardless of crop, there are some that are effectively answered by participation in a larger and more robust global market. The paper also examines some of the ways that elements such as farmer associations and technical advice can be critical for successfully increasing income and livelihood sustainability.


Bodrogi, Isabel. (2011). “Determining the vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change: A study on the economic, social, and political implications of climate change on the women of three rural communities in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia.”

Masters thesis available in the SFU Library.  

Abstract: The few climate change studies that have been done in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia have mainly focused on investigations of climate change impacts on the natural system. Adaptation and mitigation measures, therefore, addressed only the biophysical vulnerability of the system. This preliminary research on three rural communities in the Valles Cruceños region explores the social construction of women‘s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Formal and informal institutions determine and distribute entitlements, and a system‘s level of vulnerability or its capacity to cope with external stressors is defined by its ability to access these entitlements. Although all community members are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, women in particular, have specific roles and responsibilities in the household and community levels that disproportionately affect their resilience to shocks and stresses. I argue that the vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia can be attributed to the absence of support from formal institutions and the presence of constraints from informal institutions.

Carvahlo, Deborah. (2012). “Women’s Land Ownership Rights and the Limitations of the Land Titling Program in Bolivia.” 

Masters thesis available in the SFU Library.  

Abstract:  Studies recognize that formal land ownership for poor rural women in developing countries may provide socio-economic benefits that may significantly improve women’s lives. Despite the high involvement of women in rural activities, in many developing countries women experience land tenure insecurity. Bolivia has some of the most advanced gender-sensitive land laws in Latin America, which explicitly recognize the goal of gender equality in land ownership and titling programs. Yet, full implementation and wide recognition of these laws remain a challenge in practice. Using a qualitative approach based on field research in the department of La Paz, Bolivia, this thesis examines how socio-cultural practices and norms combined with institutional obstacles, may hinder Bolivian rural women’s ability to ensure their land rights are respected, recognized, and secured. The success of ensuring gender equality in land policies and titling programs must involve an analysis and consideration of the local socio-cultural frameworks that may be gender discriminatory.

Gallegos, Francisco. (2012). “Food security and Food Sovereignty in Tarija-Bolivia: Public Policy Opportunities and Challenges in Rural Communities.”  

Masters thesis available in the SFU Library.  

Abstract:  Insufficient access to water, seeds and agricultural resources, as well as low levels of education and other economic means, have affected food security levels of campesinos (peasants) in rural municipalities in Bolivia. This study, using quantitative research (household survey), assesses the demographic, economic, agricultural characteristics of 96 campesino households. Moreover, through qualitative research (interviews and document analysis), the study examines the current national policy framework and the municipal capacity to implement projects that improve campesino food security levels. Using food sovereignty as a framework, the research suggests four policy alternatives to improve agroecological productivity among rural households. Based on the analysis of
all policy options, the research recommends that municipalities increase investments in agricultural productivity projects, starting by enhancing current school feeding programs.

Hernandez, Gretchen. (Dissertation in progress). “Taking Back Development: Indigenous Communities, Social and Community Economy in the Bolivian Highlands.”   

Abstract:  Bolivia is in a dynamic process of transformation, striving to create a development trajectory that is inclusive and equitable. A radical constitution, adopted in 2009, enshrines indigenous rights to traditional territories, and an economic model based on ‘social cooperative and community forms of economic organization’.  However, it is not clear how the national government will support this development model, nor how indigenous communities understand or practice these forms of economic organization.  This paper explores how three indigenous communities in the Bolivian highlands articulate social and community economy, and how national policy, social movements, and non-governmental organizations relate to these initiatives.  The findings are based on qualitative field research that combined interviews, workshops, and participant observation.    The research provides a comparative example of the conceptualization and practice of the social economy, with emphasis on indigenous peoples’ experience.  While a sectoral approach is presented (i.e., identifying the types of organizations/ enterprises), the research also contributes to an interactive view of the social economy – its interaction with government policy, international cooperation, and social organizations. The paper concludes that while there are multiple forms of social economy present in Bolivian communities that these emerge from multiple factors and can be internally or externally driven.  Further, there is significant potential for social forms of economy to support indigenous-led local development in Bolivia, but also significant obstacles to overcome.  >>read more about Gretchen and her research. 


Rustand, Alison.  (2013).  Participation in Context: The dynamics of participant activity in two community based initiatives in Bolivia.

Masters thesis will be available soon in the SFU Library.

Abstract:  This thesis explores participation in two community economic development projects in the municipality of Viacha in the Department of La Paz.  The purpose of the study is to attempt a thorough understanding of the factors that affect project participation in independent Community Economic Development initiatives which were led, in part, by CED training program graduates. “Independent” initiative in this study is defined as a project where the idea comes from a social actor (an individual, group, or community) that will be principally responsible for planning, organizing, implementing, and maintaining. NGOs or outside institutions can play a supporting role in terms of financing or training. It will also show that contextualizing participation is necessary in order to understand that its dynamics may differ from place to place even within the same kind of project. The participants and their activities will be situated within the development dynamics (i.e.: institutional, political and social) of their community, municipality, and larger region.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s