Villamontes is a medium-sized city with about 50,000 inhabitants that is situated in the southern part of the country, while Cliza is at Bolivia’s heart, in the Cochabamba department and counts 20,000 inhabitants in the urban centre. Villamontes and Cliza are two such towns that were lacking the necessary resources to be able to provide quality basic services to its citizens. The small towns have strong links with the surrounding rural areas; the urban residents often have cropland in the countryside surrounding the town, and goods, foods and services are often sold and shared between the rural and urban settlements. Supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by Helvetas, the Gestión ambiental municipal (Municipal Environmental Management) project builds on the importance of these rural-urban linkages to ensure that basic urban sanitation is financially viable and soil and water pollution, which is caused by solid and liquid waste as well as untreated wastewater directly deposited into the rivers, is reduced.

The towns have established formal partnerships with other surrounding small municipalities in order to benefit from economies of scale and reduce operational and maintenance costs.