Santiago de Okola is a small rural community composed of 90 Aymara families living on the banks of Titicaca lake and mainly living on fishing and subsistence farming of crops like potato, beans and quinoa, the typical crops of Bolivia’s Andean region. In 2008, 12 families of the community established an Impresa Turistica Comunitaria (ITC) called ASISTURSO (Asociación Integral del Turismo Santiago de Okola), with the goal of promoting their ancestral culture, protecting the local natural heritage and sharing both them with domestic and foreign tourists.
These families adapted their typical homes made up of adobe (sun-dried mud bricks) to host tourists and offered them typical food based on local products and lake fish.
The INCAmmino project, sponsored by AICS and implemented by ICEI (Istituto di Cooperazione Economica Internazionale) in partnership with ProgettoMondo MLAL and the Bolivian networks TUSOCO (Community-based Solidarity Tourism) and OEPAIC (Producer Organizations with Cultural Identity), is supporting 11 ITCs, and planning activities aimed to improve tourism-generated earnings for local communities.
The project staff visited the community of Santiago de Okola last September, in order to present the project. We then met with Doña Maruja, who is presently the leader of ASISTURSO, and she welcomed us by offering us the Aptaphi: a typical Andean meal including several plates prepared by the families for community meetings.
During the presentation meeting, Doña Maruja explained that ASISTURSO is organized in accordance with the principles of the community: the leaders change every year , economic benefits are shared between the families joining the ITC, and part of the latter is reinvested in the community to build small infrastructures or to support children’s education at schools .
The community leader declared to be happy about the start of the project and hopeful that the planned activities will contribute to enhance the working of ITC, so providing new opportunities to youngsters of the community, and that the foreseen increase of tourist flows will improve the economy of the community.
Thanks to the INCAmmino project, a three-day event will be organized in February to actively involve all the ITCs in the project implementation and the start of the activities. Doña Maruja will be present with all her enthusiasm!
Further information on: https://icei.it/blog/project/incammino/