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.