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Help 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 100,000 children is murdered

39% of people live in poverty

Map of Bolivia

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.

Healthy newborn Emanuel, a brand new, one-day-old baby, here in his colorful aguayo, and his mother Liseth are alive and thriving, thanks to your support of our vital work in Bolivia. Photo Credit: Susan Warner/Save the Children 2015.

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, 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 schools to install water recycling systems that reuse handwashing water to flush toilets, increasing cleanliness and decreasing the risk of illness among children

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
  • 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
  • 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 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 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

Emergency response

  • 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 to 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.

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Give a meaningful gift that will help transform children’s lives and futures in Bolivia and beyond. There’s something for everyone!

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.