Afro-Bolivians - Settlements



The semitropical provinces of Nor Yungas and Sud Yungas are located on the eastern side of the Andes; the mountainous topography is dense with vegetation. Afro-Bolivian communities in Nor Yungas include Tocaña, Mururata, and Chischipa. Coroico is the nearest regional town and political center, and several Afro-Bolivian families live and work there. In Sud Yungas are the villages of Chulumani, Irupana, and Chicaloma, which is also known as pueblo de los negros (village of the Blacks). Like most rural Bolivian villages, Afro-Bolivian villages have a small plaza circumscribed by a church, a schoolhouse, and one or more stores.

In the Afro-Bolivian village of Tocaña, homes are scattered up and down the sides of a small mountain and connected by footpaths. Each dwelling consists of either a single two-story adobe structure or two to three separate single-story structures. The living, sleeping, and dining areas are together under one steel roof, and they are noncompartmentalized. If a house has a second story, it is commonly a storage area. As a separate structure, the kitchen can be as simple as a covered fireplace, or it can be a complete rectangular adobe building with a thatched or steel roof and a door. Single-story homes often have a third structure used as a storage room. Each household sits on a small plot of land (less than one-tenth of a hectare). Families also have more substantial plots of land (up to 1.5 hectares) that they farm. As of 1992 there was no potable water system in Tocaña, nor was there electricity or adequate sanitation facilities such as household latrines.

In the city of La Paz, Afro-Bolivian migrants live throughout the poorest neighborhoods. If they have a house, it sits on a small plot of land (less than one-tenth of a hectare) and is typically of brick and enclosed by a brick wall. The central living and dining area is one large room, with the sleeping area separated by a wall or a curtain. The kitchen is often separated from the house. As of 1992, most migrant Afro-Bolivian families lacked necessities such as electricity and adequate sanitation.


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