Despite Bolivia’s economic growth in recent years, two thirds of the population still live below the poverty line. Poor access to health care and malnutrition among children are two problems that the country is struggling with. Girls are one of the groups that is particularly hard hit by the problems.
The coastless country is also one of the countries in the world with the greatest biodiversity. About 20 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are located here, making the country extremely sensitive to climate change. When the glaciers melt, the water supply in the country is expected to decrease, which will hit children particularly hard. Already, an average of 100,000 children in the country are affected annually by climate-related disasters – such as severe droughts with a consequent lack of water – which has a negative impact on children’s development and health. Although more and more children are attending school today and the situation of children has improved in a number of areas, poverty, violence and malnutrition are still major problems that have a major negative impact on their daily lives. Girls are particularly hard hit. Teenage pregnancies are common.
Children’s early development and health in focus for Plan International in Bolivia
Plan International works to ensure that children in Bolivia get off to the best possible start in life. It includes strengthening children and young people’s right to survival, development, protection from violence and participation. We educate parents about the consequences of exposing their child to violence and inform the children about where they can seek help if they are exposed to violence.
During an ongoing natural disaster, access to education often suffers. Many children are forced to stay at home for months before they can return to school due to, for example, limited accessibility. Therefore, we work actively to strengthen the schools’ knowledge and ability to ensure that children have uninterrupted access to education when a disaster occurs. We also work actively to strengthen girls’ knowledge of their sexual and reproductive rights, which has resulted in a decrease in teenage pregnancies in the areas where we work with the program.
In areas with high unemployment among young people, we are increasing access to education in tourism and other professions so that young people can eventually support themselves. We also work to strengthen girls’ participation by arranging a one-year leadership training.
Tourism is a job opportunity in Bolivia
Pascuala wants a real job in the future, perhaps as a guide. Therefore, she takes lessons and learns about tourism with the support of Plan International.
Pascuala Torrez Farfán is 19 years old and lives in Yunchará, Bolivia. Every day she takes care of her siblings, but she also keeps track of the cattle and knows how to select the wool from sheep and llamas.
Helping the family is important to Pascuala, but she must also lay the groundwork for her own future. Right now she is participating in one of Plan International’s projects that are about giving young people opportunities for a job. On top of her chores at home, she also has to find time for lessons four days a month.
– I learn about tourism so that I can become a guide or maybe cook for tourists, says Pascuala.
She is optimistic and believes that everything she has learned so far will be useful to her when she then tries to get a job at a company that works with tourism. In the community where she lives, tourism is important. There, they have understood the importance of food experiences, good accommodation and excursions with the llamas, which is a national pride.
– I would like to go to other places in Bolivia where young people like myself work with tourism to get to share their experiences and learn more, says Pascuala.
Healthy start in life
Committed parents participate in father groups
Present parents are important for a child’s health and upbringing. The father’s commitment has an effect on the children’s view of gender equality and what their relationships with others will look like. In Bolivia, many fathers are absent. Some spend long days at work, others doubt their own ability to contribute to the child’s development or believe that women are naturally better at taking care of children.
Plan International thinks it is important for fathers to connect with their children early. In Bolivia, we work with local health centers to promote men’s commitment to their children – even before the child is born.
Children’s right to participate
Now Estéfani can go again
Estéfani is a five-year-old girl with a dislocated hip. Her mother understood that something was wrong when she saw how difficult it was for her daughter to keep her balance. This is something that can be easily treated if the condition is detected early, but in Estéfani’s home municipality, care is limited. When her mother finally got to the hospital, she was told that it would cost the family $ 10,000 to have her hip corrected surgically.
When Plan International heard about Estéfani’s condition, we immediately connected the mother with a specialist who decided to perform the operation for free if the family could only pay the cost of medical equipment and medicines needed after the operation.
Facts about Bolivia
Capital: La Paz (administrative capital), Sucre (formal capital)
Population: 11 million
Life expectancy: 69 years
Infant mortality rate: 30 per 1000 births
Proportion of children starting school: 82%
Proportion of women in parliament : 53%