Help Save Children in Bolivia
Landlocked Bolivia, officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is a country of extremes located in central South America. Home to snowcapped Andes mountains, as well as the tropical Amazon rainforest, it claims the world’s highest lake and the world’s largest salt flat. The country’s rich history dates back nearly 21,000 years, including rule under the Incan empire.
Today, Bolivia has the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America, who make up around two-thirds of the population, with 37 official languages and two capital cities (La Paz and Sucre).
The country is also among the world’s poorest. Nearly 40% of Bolivia's people live in poverty – and that rate increases dramatically in vulnerable communities. Hunger, chronic malnutrition, natural disasters and lack of education plague many Bolivian children. Some are forced to work in order to survive and are at risk of violence, exploitation and trafficking.
Challenges for Children in Bolivia
Without access to food, education and medical care, and at high risk of violence, children in Bolivia need your help.
- 1 child in 37 dies before their 5th birthday, 4 times the U.S. rate
- 16% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition
- 13% of children are out of school, and 26% are engaged in child labor, instead of learning
- 11% of girls (ages 15-19) are married, and 1 in 15 gives birth
- 6 in every 1,000 children is murdered
- 39% of people live in poverty
Our Results for Children in Bolivia
Because of supporters like you, Bolivia has cut its under-5 mortality and childhood stunting in half since the late 1990s. Together, we helped over 102,000 children in Bolivia last year.
Wrapped in a colorful “aguayo” blanket made from llama wool, baby Emanuel, just 1 day old, was born healthy in the poor altiplano (high plateau) region where we work, one of the most desolate places on earth.
- 15,000 children healthy and nourished
- 68,000 children educated and empowered
- 7,000 children protected from harm
- 9,000 children lifted from poverty
- 11,000 children aided in crisis
Our Work for Children in Bolivia
Save the Children has been working in Bolivia for over 30 years, implementing programs that protect the rights and serve the needs of vulnerable children – from early childhood to early adulthood – in the areas of health, education, protection and emergency response. From a single program near the capital of La Paz in 1985, then offering sponsorship starting in 1986, we are now a leading charity for children across Bolivia.
Our early childhood programs help prepare young children for school by giving them access to quality preschools and early literacy programs, while our programs designed for primary school kids work to transform students into lifelong learners by building strong curriculums and passionate teachers. We also work to support health education and care for children in need through our school health programs, so children stay healthy, well-nourished and in school. Our work with adolescents focuses on that challenging transition between childhood and adulthood, helping ensure it’s a positive one by teaching them money, job and relationship skills.
Thanks to your generous support, we’re giving children a healthy start and the opportunity to learn, protecting them from harm along the way.
Here are some recent examples of our work:
A healthy start in life
- Our legacy as a global leader in child health and nutrition has included two major projects in Bolivia:
- We used the innovative Positive Deviance Inquiry approach, for which we have long been recognized as a global leader, in a development food assistance program (2002-2008) to identify factors that motivate parents to change behaviors, leading to a significant reduction in child stunting
- In the early 1990s, as a part of our Bolivia WARMI project, we first developed the Community Action Cycle, a community-led approach for isolated communities with limited access to health services, contributing to a 67% reduction in maternal mortality in the time directly before and after birth – the project was later taken to scale across the country
- We’re now working with communities to deliver basic health services and promote lifelong healthy hygiene habits, with clean water programs and hygiene education
- With ongoing droughts continuing to cause severe water shortages, we’re working in sponsorship-supported schools to install water recycling systems that reuse handwashing water to flush toilets, increasing cleanliness and decreasing the risk of illness among children
- We successfully advocated for the permanent implementation of our Healthy Schools program in the city of El Also, Bolivia’s fastest grow city and an epicenter of childhood illnesses such as obesity and malnutrition, which will benefit children in more than 400 schools
The opportunity to learn
- Our early learning programs support cognitive, psychosocial and physical activities to ensure a healthy and positive foundation that prepares children for success in primary school
- Through sponsorship, we trained 80% of the technical staff from a local government in playful, artistic and experimental strategies to strengthen and develop socio-emotional skills in young children
- Our education initiatives include training for educators, promoting child-centered teaching methods and raising awareness of children’s education rights at the community and national level – we also promote environmental programs and community participation throughout
- We helped construct the first and only classroom and vocational training hall for children with disabilities who may require a different path to livelihood
- To empower teens, we’re focusing on education, economic opportunities, job training and health, helping youth make responsible and informed choices for their futures
- To strengthen sustainable income generation, promote food security and better nutrition for more than 900 coffee-producing families, we helped institute a very successful honey production livelihoods initiative
Protection from harm
- In an effort to address the high rate of teen pregnancies, our sponsorship team trained 61 peer leaders to help empower fellow adolescents make better decisions, reaching 456 young adults
- Given Bolivia is a highly “machista” society, where women have few opportunities and violence against women is common, we trained 100% of our staff on transformative gender issues, with commitments to not reinforce gender gaps during program implementation – our staff then trained 115 public workers on gender and human rights essential to building alliances with civil society and public institutions
- To address the risks of digital media and improve emotional intelligence, we developed an innovative game using robotic cars to teach about disaster risk reduction and child protection, with children maneuvering their cars through risky places and situations – we also worked with the Special Force to Combat Crime and the Council Against Human Trafficking to produce short films on the dangers of digital media and human trafficking
- We developed and implemented programs, protocols, manuals and guides focusing on the treatment and social reintegration of vulnerable adolescents in conflict with the law, strengthening the capacities of therapeutic and justice operators and working with adolescents and their families to support the development of their social and personal skills
- We continue to work strengthening community and national capacities in disaster risk management and resilience to reduce the negative impact on the most vulnerable populations
How You Can Help Children in Bolivia
You can create change that lasts a lifetime for children in Bolivia – in so many ways.
Support Save the Children’s mission. Donate to help children in Bolivia and around the world grow up healthy, educated and safe.
Sponsor a Bolivian Child
Be the hero in the life of a Bolivian child. Sponsorship drives lasting change in children’s lives, families and communities.
Sources: Facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as our thought leadership publications, including our Global Childhood Report 2020. Other sources include CIA World Factbook and BBC Country Profiles.
Photo: Susan Warner / Save the Children / 2015.
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