International Cooperation

Country Programme of Bolivia

Bolivia has made huge economic and social progress in recent years, but many people still suffer severe poverty and the country is extremely vulnerable to natural phenomena. Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable population group in Bolivia includes better prevention of children's and adolescent's rights violations and ensuring access to safe drinking water.



Facts and Figures:

  • Engagement in the country since: 1988
  • Mean annual no. of beneficiaries: 10,600 direct beneficiaries and 67,000 indirect beneficiaries
  • Main partners: Caritas Corocoro, ENDA, Fundación Munasim Kullakita
  • Main donors: Medicor, Georg Fisher Foundation, Caritas Finland, Child sponsorship, SDC Block Grant

Key achievements:

  • The ‘temporary foster family’ model implemented by Infante is now being promoted by UNICEF to public authorities (as for example the State Agency for Child Protection and technical instances as social departments of the regional governments) to be established as a governmental policy.

Why we are here

Bolivia is a country rich in resources, with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports. However, the country has so far not been able to translate the natural resource rents into a broad-based development. Instead, resource extraction generates widespread inequality, social conflicts and environmental degradation. According to the latest Human Development Index, Bolivia is positioned at 118 out of 188 countries.

Rural and remote areas are most vulnerable and still lack access to many services such as drinking water and water for agriculture. Changes in temperature and precipitation put further pressure on agricultural conditions, making a large section of Bolivia’s population extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and thereby aggravating poverty. Increasing the resilience to changes in climatic conditions is hence an essential component for poverty alleviation and the enhancement of economic opportunities in Bolivia. The interventions of Caritas Switzerland focus on the field of activity WASH, whereas climate change as a crosscutting issue is of special relevance for the implementation of the programme.

The other field of activity of Caritas Switzerland prioritises interventions regarding Education and Income, with a focus on violence, especially against marginalised female children and adolescents in urban areas, whose rights are neglected by the fragile and inefficient law enforcement and judicial system. The organisation intervenes in those areas that are not covered by the government or where the quality of the current system can be improved.

Caritas Switzerland is putting the two fields of activity Education & Income and WASH at the core of the Country Programme Bolivia, geographically focused on the central axis of the Andean highlands of La Paz – Cochabamba, including adjacent rural regions as for example in Oruro.


Fields of Activity

Education and Income

The Child and Adolescent Code ratified in 2014, has been a major breakthrough, bringing much of Bolivia’s legislation for children in line with international treaties. The Code imposes heavy penalties for sexual violence against minors and sexual harassment. Violence in the family is a serious problem in Bolivia, as the culture of ‘machismo’ is widespread. Girls and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to sexualised violence. 34% of girls suffer sexual abuse before they are 18 years of age, mostly at the hand of family members, teachers or neighbours. The number of teenage pregnancies is also growing; they are the major obstacle for girls in completing their education. Due to their vulnerability, female children and adolescents are a priority for Caritas Switzerland’s interventions. 

To achieve the objectives of preventing the rights of children and adolescents being violated, and of enabling them to receive basic education and vocational training, our interventions focus on providing training for children and adolescents on life skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking or personal skills such as self-awareness. Our partners work to promote change by engaging children, families and civil society in strengthening child rights systems and ensuring that the local government meets its commitments to children’s rights. They also support the protection of victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect: this involves ensuring that children and adolescents in prioritised geographical areas have access to child protection services. Regarding vocational training, Caritas Switzerland promotes informal vocational training (tailoring, bakery and handicraft) in order to provide the most vulnerable with a basic qualification to enter the job market.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

In Bolivian law, every person has the right to universal and equal access to basic services such as drinking water and sewerage. It is the responsibility of the government to provide these basic services through public entities. As a result, Bolivia successfully expanded its drinking water infrastructure with the implementation of the countrywide programme Mas Inversion para el Agua (MI Agua). However, MI Agua has neglected to involve the population in the planning and construction processes, which leads in many cases to negative effects on the operation and maintenance of the system. Regarding hygiene and sanitation, no legal framework exists. The precarious state of the water supply, especially in remote rural areas, as well as poor hygiene practices, favour the spread of diseases. In Bolivia, approximately 30,000 children die each year because of stomach and intestinal diseases caused by the lack of access to clean drinking water and poor hygiene practice. The WASH-interventions focus on different approaches: the construction of safe drinking water infrastructure or the rehabilitation of existing facilities. Collaborating with local authorities and involving the beneficiaries in every step of the planning and implementation phase is crucial for a sustainable result.

This implies among other things: co-financing of the project by the municipality, provision of labour and locally available material by the beneficiaries, and the formation of water committees to sustainably maintain and operate the drinking water infrastructure. The conduct of awareness-raising campaigns in the communities and schools improves hygiene perception and practices, which then leads to better health and environmental conditions.



  • Bolivia Country Programme (Flyer, en)
    Dateiformat: pdf / 160 KB
  • Bolivia Country Programme: Fields of Activity (Flyer, en)
    Dateiformat: pdf / 231 KB

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