Where We Work - Bolivia

Save the Children began working in Inquisivi Province since 1986 during Bolivia's transition from a politically and economically tumultuous period. Today, Save the Children's programs bring hope to children and families in the departments of La Paz and Oruro on the Altiplano, and our newer adolescent programs extend to every department of Bolivia. Save the Children helps girls and boys and their families with food security, newborn care, school health and nutrition, primary education, healthy adolescent development, and emergency relief.

Explore Our Programs

Challenges for Children

Two-thirds of Bolivia's people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Infant mortality represents more than half of child deaths under the age of 5. On average, of the 255,000 infants born each year in Bolivia, 7,000 die in their first month of life, and another 7,000 do not survive their first year. Some 13 percent of adolescent girls are pregnant or have already had children, and an increase in sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, is cause for growing concern in Bolivia.

Emergency Relief

The 2007-08 rainy season caused floods and landslides in six of Bolivia's nine departments. Save the Children's emergency response in the remote and isolated communities of La Paz, Oruro and Beni included delivery of food, blankets and personal hygiene items to over 6,300 people. We are also working to improve community disaster preparedness, as floods impact these areas every year.

Food Security

Save the Children focuses on reducing hunger and chronic malnutrition and reaches some 50,000 children and their families. A recent maternal/infant health and nutrition survey demonstrated a 5.6 percent reduction in chronic malnutrition as a result of our programs in 200 rural communities in the Department of La Paz. We have also made significant progress in improving household water and sanitation.


Save the Children implements simple, low-cost measures to keep newborns alive and healthy, including “clean delivery” practices and promoting exclusive breastfeeding. In collaboration with Save the Children, the Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports has developed a strategy to reduce newborn deaths. School-age children benefit from our School Health and Nutrition programs, which distribute micronutrients to girls and boys, provide first aid kits for classrooms, screen children for vision and hearing impairments and train teachers and parents in basic health issues.

Primary Education

Our goal is to help children develop competencies and life skills by improving primary education in elementary schools in Oruro. We work with 20 of the 60 state or public schools, impacting 15,000 children. We address the educational needs of girls and boys and also include teachers and parents in our initiatives. Additionally, Save the Children developed and implemented a program in Oruro and El Alto that trains children, youth and teachers in technology skills.

Healthy Adolescent Development

Making Decisions, our adolescent development program, helps youth make responsible and informed decisions regarding their futures. We focus on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS education, leadership, self-esteem, communications and economic opportunities for youth through vocational orientation and education. The initiative has already benefited approximately 15,000 youth and now reaches every department in Bolivia. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, it will impact an additional 81,000 adolescents over the next three years.

A portrait of 7 year-old Susana Flores, she is eating an orange. Her mother is picking up food at the distribution warehouse in Patacamaya that will be distributed in her village. Nutritional training is also part of the program.

Plans for the Future

Save the Children will continue to expand community-based activities that help improve the health, education, food security and nutrition of Bolivian children. These include:

  • An integrated food security initiative that will use strategies such as behavior change to help families increase and then sustain their household incomes and closely monitor the nutritional status of their children.
  • A multi-faceted adolescent program that will expand the Making Decisions model to the Lake Titicaca region, as well as maintaining its current national presence.
  • A newborn health focus on post-natal care.

The expansion of primary school health and nutrition initiatives to include all 49 public elementary schools in the rural community of Caracollo.

Bolivia Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 10,461,053
  • Infant Death Rate: 39.6 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 68 years
  • Poverty Rate: 15.6%
  • Underweight Children: 4.5%
  • Human Development Rank: 108
  • Maternal Death Risk: 180 deaths/100,000 live births
  • Girls' Education: 14 years
  • Clean Water Access: 88%

Sponsor a Child in Bolivia

Sponsorship is a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between you and the community in which Save the Children is helping to create real and lasting change. It provides more than the satisfaction that comes with aid for improving the health and well-being of children; it delivers a special opportunity to witness young lives lifted over time. Through child sponsorship, two lives are changed forever: yours and the life of your sponsored child.

Last Updated June 2014

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