BEWW is finally out in Italian and Spanish

Here we go: Bolivia’s Everyday Water War is finally available in Spanish and Italian. 16 years of struggle and one year of journalistic work come to an end, and we are proud to announce that the webdoc has been published by important and committed media outlets such as Periodismo Humano in Spain and L’Espresso in Italy.

For those who don’t know these names, Periodismo Humano is an independent and quality online magazine founded by Pulitzer prize photojournalist Javier Bauluz, aimed at covering the systematic violations of human rights in every corner of the planet, whilst L’Espresso is the main Italian investigative news magazine since 1955.

Don’t wait any longer. Let Jacinto, Marcela and José guide you into the Water War…

BEWW in the media

Media has changed faster than ever in the last 10 years. Newspapers and books are now fighting with social media, blogs and interactive multimedia feature for the most precious resource: our time.

However, journalism principles have not changed that much: fair and balanced reporting, public interest, voice to the voiceless are still lighthouse guiding us in day by day decisions. A story that deserves to be told is always worth your effort.

So, maybe you’re not the king of media consumer that use to spend a night clicking around a webdoc. Maybe you would prefer to read a magazine whilst you are commuting to work or to school. What matters to us is that, if you are willing to know the story of Marcela, Jacinto and José fighting for their access to water, you can find it.

That’s why we have tried to adapt a transmedia approach in our work, scattering bits and snippets of Bolivia’s everyday water war like modern days Tom Thumbs on papers and on screen.

Summarising: with Bolivia’s everyday water war we have tried to adapt a Transmedia approach: according to photo-journalist and researcher Kevin Moloney, this means “One storyworld, many stories, many forms, many channels.” Ok, we do reckon that we’ve missed radio, but this was at least our aim.

Over the last months, our protagonists has been featured on German papers, Spanish Digital outlets, US and Italian magazines. This is the list of pieces and previews that have been published so far:

Nevertheless, this is just a sampling of what comes next. So we hope that these few sips have made you thirsty …

The Creators of Bolivia’s Everyday Water War

Last August we decided to reveal the face of Marcela, one of our main characters, who will bring you down through the path of the Water War. But Bolivia’s everyday water war is a collective story, where the strain, the deprivations and the victories of three protagonists are crossed with the life and the ideals of more than 20 interviewees. Our main goal is to paint the most exhaustive picture that we could, because fulfilling the human right to water can be a very insidious goal.

However, some face will not be shown in the webdoc: the men who’ve spent freezing mornings wandering the Andean altiplano and sleepless nights putting everything together. The hands who rocked this cradle. The authors of Bolivia’s everyday water war.
Michele Bertelli (@MikeBertelli) is a freelance journalist and videomaker. He has covered stories for media outlets like Al Jazeera, El País, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Vice and Repubblica TV. He is interested in unconventional stories, migration and economic development, and has spent the last couple of years focusing on webdocs and online video formats. He’s currently living in Rome, where he produces videos for the Italian Parliament, still listening to noisy music and keeping his backpack ready.

Felix Lill (@FelixLill) is a German freelance journalist who moved from London to Tokyo after the 2012 Olympics. Now dividing his life mainly between Berlin and Tokyo, he writes a for Die Zeit, Die Presse, Der Spiegel, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Taggespiegel, Zeit Online and others. Most of his topics are connected with economics, politics or sports. He was awarded the Austrian Sports Journalism Award in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Javier Sauras (@jsauras) is a nomadic journalist and photographer who has been wandering from Asia to Latin America during the last five years. He has written about Japan, the Philippines, Spain, China, the U.K. and Bolivia. He is still on the road.

The protagonists: Marcela

15 years ago, the government of Bolivia decided to privatize its main cities’ water system. The people of Cochabamba rose against the state to prevent stop the international private agents from controlling their own water resources. Marcela Olivera was there. We now present Bolivia’s Everyday Water War teaser trailer, in which we meet Marcela, one of our three main protagonists, and learn about her fight for water rights.

Water Music


Your homeland is where your friends are. That’s why, after a year of work, we already feel Bolivian thanks to the people we sadly had to leave there (some of whom did not even appear in the documentary), the experiences we shared and everything they taught us.

We met two wonderful human beings, Celia and Genciano, walking along the steep sidewalks of La Paz. Celia Pérez Martín is a social worker and a specialist in gender and development and Genciano Pedriel Jare is a sound technician and serves as professor in the Universidad Autónoma del Beni university. They are both also musicians and they lent Bolivia’s Everyday Water War their musical ears and taste. While Genciano is in charge of digital audio editing, they both selected the musical track that you will hear in the documentary.

Celia and Genciano have drawn in three Andinian bands that agreed to create BEWW’s soundtrack: Awatiñas, Andes Manta Music and Toldería.

The Awatiñas are a Bolivian folk group created in La Paz in 1970 by brothers from  the Conde and Beltrán families. The word awatiña means “those who take care” in the Aymara language. They sing both in Spanish and Aymara, and they play Andean instruments such as the pan flute, the sikus, the charango and the quenas. The group’s aim is to watch over the integrity and culture of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples. With over 10 albums behind their backs and several tours around Europe and Latin America, they stand as one of the best known Bolivian music groups.

The Andes Manta Music is a Peruvian band whose members come from the Andinian regions but live and work in New York. Through popular music, these musicians invite us to imagine the traditions of their culture, using the rich and eerie sounds of the rainforest. Their music is deeply rooted in the Inca cultural heritage and their ancestors, and it is played using Andinian instruments in the purest and most authentic way. The group has released several works, they have traveled around the world and they are considered a true icon of Andinian music.

Toldería is a legendary Latin-American music group from Spain. It was born thanks to the Valencian music Gonzalo Reig, who was a member of Los Calchakis group for years, which is the most important Latin-American group in all of Europe. Reig became a very experienced musician during his years working with Los Calchakis in Paris, he moved Madrid and formed Toldería.

Today we are proud of inviting you to a half-hour travel through the Andes foothills. Press play and let your mind fly!

What are interactive journalism and immersion journalism?

When we started planning Bolivia’s Everyday Water War project, we chose to create an interactive documentary that would help the viewer dive into the story and get involved by its protagonists.

Immersion journalism is an interactive kind of journalism that explores the latest trends of the digital data world. We have been asked several times before what is the difference between this and the traditional narrative forms. That’s why we have decided to use this blog entry to explain ourselves better.

To begin with, interactive journalism allows a great proximity to the audience because it offers the consumer the possibility of experiencing the story from the protagonist’s point of view instead of settling for the reporter’s vision. Plus, this model often covers deep analysis and big data view that are usually put at disposal to the viewer under a Creative Commons licence.

Interactive journalism also combines video, image, audio, text and motion graphics, always available to the user to choose what to see and how to experience the story.
These new formats usually rely on social networks and are adapted for smartphones and tablets.

Since they are not limited by any style or format, there are as much interactive and immersion journalism different examples as projects. We would like to recommend three examples that really caught our eyes:

This is just the icing of a huge cake. Journalist Eva Domínguez’s blog compiles a lot of other examples. Go on and visit her blog: it’s a great way of learning about the latest trends in journalism.

If you want to know more, hit like on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

When the state fails to do so, who is in charge of the water management?

When a poor state is controlled by corrupt and inefficient governments, public services deteriorate and citizens suffer. Historically, Bolivia’s governments never took an interest in water management, that is the reason it is not a state monopoly.

Many Bolivians, tired of waiting for a state intervention that would never take shape, decided to organize themselves to manage their own water systems. Decades ago Santa Cruz’s neighbors, joined by Cochabamba’s poorest neighbors, gathered in assemblies and started creating their own organizations to obtain and distribute water in their neighborhoods. These organizations set a monthly membership fee and establish community work targets, such as digging holes, installing water pipelines or transporting the materials needed for water system installation.

Santa Cruz’s cooperatives and Cochabamba’s water committees are two alternative models to public-state and private management, two examples of citizen organization to address the lack of state intervention. But, do this systems actually work?

In Bolivia’s Everyday Water War we explore some of these social experiences, their sustainability and their reach. Guided by a very special route map designed by our artist Francesca Canzi, we are going to visit three places that exemplify the three water management systems that exist in Bolivia, Cochambamba’s public company and the people’s committees at the south of the city, several cooperatives located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and we are also going to discover how indigenous communities organize themselves in La Paz department.

Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, all 189 United Nations member states committed to achieve eight human development goals by 2015. Among these goals was the need to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Bolivia comfortably met the goal of improving drinking water access for most of its population. The Andean country was aiming towards a 78,5 per cent of water supply by 2015, a peak reached time before that year. Evo Morales’ government and several international institutions made an effort to fund and help development, and that definitely paid off. The public administration devoted special attention with the role of the Ministry of the Environment and MI Agua, Más Inversores en Agua (More Water Investors), presidential programme.

According to the reports jointly produced by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, in 1990 half of Bolivia’s population lacked drinking water at home. Today, nearly 80 per cent of the population have access to these resources. In spite of the dramatic progress, we should not forget that there are still 2 million people living without drinking water in Bolivia.

It would appear that Bolivia is finding difficulties in improving access to sanitation. Almost half of the nearly 11 million Bolivians have poor access. This rate is even worse as we focus on the rural areas, where three-quarters of the population lack toilets and latrines.

Between 1990 and 2010, more than 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water fountains. This allowed the world to achieve one of the Millennium Development Goals five years ahead of schedule.

Evo Morales’ Third Term

In 2000 the Water War marks the beginning of the process of change that led Evo Morales to become Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

Morales began his political career as the coca leaf trade union leader. In 1997 he gained a seat in congress. In the 2002 elections, first after Cochabamba’s riots, he came second in the presidential race, only to become president three years later.

In October 2014 he was re-elected with an absolute majority. Now, the Aymara-descent indigenous leader is facing three main challenges on his third term: making Bolivia Latin America’s energy center, updating the health care system and ensuring that drinking water and sanitation is no longer a problem for most of his fellow citizens.

Since his 2005 victory, Morales’ government supported the creation of a Water Ministry, which is now also in charge of the Ministry of the Environment. Perhaps, Morales’ greatest achievement from an international perspective/at the international level has been his strong support for the human right to water in the UN General Assembly.

In Bolivia there are still 2 million people that do not have access to drinking water at home. More than 4 million live without adequate sanitation.

The Water War

15 years ago, the city of Cochabamba rose up against the privatization of its municipal water company, SEMAPA.

Former president of Bolivia Hugo Banzer had entered into contract with the multinational company Bechtel in compliance with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to give the monopoly over all the city’s water resources to Aguas del Tunari consortium. This consortium was led by Bechtel and had Edison, the Spanish company Abengoa and the Bolivian companies Petricevich and Doria Medina as shareholders. Shortly after starting the operation, Aguas del Tunari drastically increased the rates and threatened to cut the water supply to anyone not being able to pay for it. In accordance with Law 2029, which guaranteed that the private consortium would have control over all water resources, the people of Cochabamba would have to pay for the water they consumed regardless of how it was obtained. Theoretically, Law 2029 allowed Aguas del Tunari to charge for the water that the people had obtained from wells, streams or even from the rain itself.

The inhabitants of Cochabamba took the streets for months to protest against the imposition of such draconian measures and the foreign sale of their public resources. The coca growers, led by a younger Evo Morales, the Federation of Irrigators, led by Omar Fernández and the Bolivian Workers’ Union, led by Óscar Olivera, joined the citizens (such as Marcelo Rojas “El Banderas” shown in the photo) in their struggle to reclaim the municipal water company. They all created the Coordinator of Water and Life association, which ultimately spearheaded the opposition movement against Law 2029 and the negotiation talks with Banzer’s government.

The Water War left several dead and many injured. The people of Cochabamba managed to banish Aguas del Tunari. They recovered SEMAPA and spearheaded the first great movement for the defense of water in Latin America. 

Today, a decade and a half later, there are still many neighbourhoods that lack proper water supplies and sanitation conditions. Did Cochabamba win the battle but lost the war?

 This is where our story begins…