Sida's work in Bolivia
Bolivia has made great economic and social progress over the past 15 years, but many Bolivians still live in poverty. Sida helps to improve people's living conditions, strengthen democracy and respect for human rights, and increased gender equality. Using natural resources more sustainably and reducing the country's climate impact are other important areas.
Sida’s support in Bolivia 2021
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Progress has been made
of Bolivians of legal age voted in the 2020 presidential elections, the highest figure in the country’s history.1 Following the 2019 political crisis, the electoral authority was heavily criticised. Since then, the authority has made many changes that have resulted in more people going to the polls.
People are living longer
The average life expectancy in Bolivia is 72 years. Twenty years ago, life expectancy was 62 years.2
Infant mortality rate goes down
The number of children dying before their fifth birthday has fallen. In 2002, 50 children died for every 1,000 live births; by 2021, 25 per 1,000 died.3
Big differences between rich and poor
The economy deteriorated as a result of the pandemic and is slowly recovering. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America and the gap between rich and poor is wide.4
Gender-based violence common
Bolivia is the country in Latin America with the greatest problem of violence against women. More than half of the country’s women have been subjected to violence by a partner.5
Deforestation affects the climate
Bolivia is one of the fastest deforesting countries in the world, and this has a major impact on the climate. When forests are cut down, many animal species are lost.6
Development cooperation in Bolivia
Bolivia has made progress in reducing poverty over the last ten years, but it remains one of the poorest countries in South America.7 Poverty is one of several social problems in the country. The majority of the country’s women are victims of gender-based violence and many people have neither running water nor functioning sewage systems. But despite major challenges, Bolivia is considered a middle-income country.
Since the fall of President Evo Morales in 2019, politics has been marked by conflict and increased insecurity. The government is suspicious of civil society and independent media. The justice system is deeply flawed. The pandemic has affected the economy, leading to more informal employment and an insecure labour market. The country is regularly hit by natural disasters such as drought, floods and forest fires.
Democracy, human rights, rule of law and gender equality
Democratic development in the country is uncertain and human rights are not fully respected. Civil society has been less active in recent years. Corruption is widespread and the judicial system is ineffective. Women are discriminated against, subjected to violence and have significantly lower incomes than men.
Strengthening the rights of LGBTQI people
Sida supports local groups such as Colectivo Rebeldía that strengthen the organisation of LGBTQI people. They also fight gender-based violence.
About the work on Colectivo Rebeldía’s website (in Spanish)
Preventing violence against women
Bolivian society is characterised by patriarchal structures. Gender-based violence is widespread. Sida supports several projects that prevent violence against women and children by working on issues of masculinity and behavioural change among men.
Strengthening women's rights
Teenage pregnancies are common and many young women are victims of violence. Sida supports The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which strengthen women’s rights and provide support to women who have been subjected to violence.
Environment, climate and sustainable use of natural resources
Bolivia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but this wealth is threatened by climate change and overexploitation of its natural resources. It is one of the fastest deforesting countries in the world and is most affected by the negative impacts of climate change.
Air and water pollution and environmental toxins are affecting people’s health and reducing their access to water. Agriculture is often inefficient and vulnerable to extreme weather. Every year, parts of the country are affected by drought and floods.
Sustainable water and sanitation systems
Large parts of the population lack access to water, sanitation and proper waste management. Sida is working with Agua Tuya, Helvetas and SwissContact to improve the sustainability of water and sanitation systems.
Sustainable farming methods mean fewer fires
Recurring forest fires hit rural people and their livelihoods hard. Sida is supporting the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which is working with Bolivia’s rural population to develop sustainable farming methods and practices to reduce the risk of forest fires.
Preparing for the annual forest fires
Climate change has made uncontrolled forest fires an annual phenomenon in Bolivia. In cooperation with several local environmental organisations, Sida is supporting the training and equipping of local fire brigades, as well as monitoring systems that provide timely and up-to-date information on flaring fires.
Knowledge of climate impact
Many people do not know how they can reduce their impact on the climate and the environment. Sida supports the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and a programme of environmental education and local environmental action. Through the project, local organisations are helping to develop cities to make them more resilient to climate change and also protect green areas in cities.
More sustainable food production
Pest attacks and other climate impacts are affecting Bolivian agriculture – in some areas, harvests have fallen by 43 %. The SwissContact organisation is boosting agricultural production and resilience through new varieties of traditional crops such as potatoes and quinoa. As a result, crop resilience has increased by 50 % and productivity by 20 %. The use of organic pesticides and the strengthening of cooperation between private and public actors in the agricultural sector contribute to more sustainable food production.
Economic development for the benefit of all
More than a third of Bolivia’s population lives below the national poverty line and economic gaps in society are wide.7
Bolivia has rich natural resources in the form of natural gas, oil and minerals. As the Bolivian economy depends on commodity exports, the country has been hit hard by the fall in world prices in recent years.
The Mercados Inclusivos project enables small farmers to use better farming methods and seeds. They will also have access to infrastructure that will boost their incomes and help them adapt to a changing climate. Through collaboration with Open Trade Gate Sweden (OTGS), small farmers can sell their products in Sweden and in Scandinavia.
Using natural resources sustainably
Climate change is hitting Bolivia hard. The Bolivian foundation Fautapo works with small farmers to help them use natural resources in ways that don’t harm the environment. They are also working with women to empower them over their own economies, especially in areas affected by climate change.
Bolivia needs more research on climate and the environment, water and land management and the use of natural resources to address the major challenges it faces. Increased research will contribute to the economic and social well-being of all people. Sida will support more projects in this area in the future.
Research training in Sweden
Through Sida-funded cooperation between Swedish universities and the two Bolivian state universities, UMSA and UMSS, Bolivian students have the opportunity to carry out part of their doctoral studies in Sweden. When they return to Bolivia, they contribute to strengthening research in chemistry, food processing, and several other areas.
Governance of Sida's development cooperation with Bolivia
Sources on this page
- Statistics on the percentage of people who voted in the last elections on Ideas’ website
- Life expectancy in Bolivia on the World Bank’s website
- Child mortality statistics in Bolivia on Globalis’ website
- Statistics on the gap between rich and poor in Bolivia on Globalis’ website
- Statistics on the proportion of women who have been victims of violence by a partner on Equality Now’s website
- On rapid deforestation in Bolivia in OmVärlen (in Swedish)
- Statistics on poverty in Bolivia on Globalis’ website (in Swedish)
Updated: October 3, 2022