Bolivia is one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America. According to Children Incorporated, Bolivian children account for 2.5 million of nearly 60% of the total population living in poverty. Bolivian children face malnutrition, inadequate access to education and child labor. Several organizations are showing their commitment to addressing child poverty in Bolivia.
5 Facts About Child Poverty in Bolivia
- Rural areas in Bolivia suffer higher rates of child poverty. People living outside urban areas have fewer opportunities for economic growth. Roughly three out of four residents of rural areas live in poverty. Higher poverty rates in rural areas mean families cannot adequately care for their children, intensifying child poverty rates. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “almost one-third of Bolivians living in rural areas cannot afford the cost of a basic food basket.” In rural children younger than 5, the stunting rate is almost 24%.
Poverty directly links to the mortality rates of children younger than 5. Poverty-ridden conditions lead to diarrheal diseases, which account for 36% of the total deaths of Bolivian children younger than 5. Malnutrition accounts for about 28% of the total mortality rate for children in this age group.
- Many Bolivian children are out of school and involved in child labor. Roughly 13% of Bolivian children are not enrolled in school and about 26% of children are involved in child labor to provide an income for their families. Although primary education is compulsory, free and available to children between the ages of 6 and 13, attendance is low. Fortunately, Save the Children implements early childhood learning programs, early literacy programs and innovative training for educators. The organization educated 68,000 Bolivian children in 2020 alone and promotes education, sustainable income and food security to help fight child poverty in Bolivia.
- Bolivian children are vulnerable to exploitation and sexual abuse. “Bolivia has the highest rate of sexual violence in Latin America,” especially among children. Equality Now estimates that one in three Bolivian girls experiences violence of a sexual nature before reaching 18. As a result, Bolivia has “the highest adolescent pregnancy rate in Latin America.” At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Breeze of Hope, a nonprofit that supports sexually abused children, received several calls from children who were stuck with their abusers during the lockdown.
- Indigenous Bolivian children face high levels of marginalization. Bolivia is home to the largest group of Indigenous people in Latin America. Indigenous people often lack access to healthcare and education due to disparities in culture, language and location. Schools in Indigenous communities have few or no libraries and school materials. Indigenous children also face violence, food insecurity and inadequate access to sanitation.
Fighting Child Poverty in Bolivia
In addition to the efforts of Save the Children and A Breeze of Hope, the WFP directly assists the Bolivian government in combating malnutrition and food insecurity. Children Incorporated works with 14 projects in the Bolivian cities of La Paz, Sucre and Santa Cruz. The organization provides children with basic necessities and school materials. Additionally, Canadian Feed the Children provides more than 355,000 nutritious snacks and meals to Bolivian children annually. It also sponsors classes to educate parents on “healthy child development” and children’s rights. Although there are still challenges to overcome, significant work is being done to eradicate child poverty in Bolivia.
– Cory Utsey