Bolivia is located in west-central South America, one-third of which lies in the Andes Mountains. The country is known for some of the most dramatic landscapes on the continent and for producing beautiful and high quality textiles.
Much of present-day Bolivia was once part of the Inca empire. The country was colonized by Spain and gained its independence in 1825. Today, Bolivia is divided by a wealthier, European-descended lowland east and a more Indigenous, poorer highland west.
Today, more than 1 in 6 Bolivians, or 2.4 million people, are living in extreme poverty. Despite progress in poverty reduction, many of those still experiencing high rates of poverty in Bolivia are Indigenous people. Like many Indigenous Peoples across South, Central and North America, including those here in Canada, the Indigenous people of Bolivia have faced disproportionate hardship.
Despite economic growth, Indigenous women, smallholders households in peri-urban areas continue to face severe poverty and are highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Bolivia is also considered the most vulnerable country in South America to the effects of climate change. According to the World Food Program, analysts predict that people’s vulnerability to hunger in Bolivia will increase by 22 percent by 2050 unless serious measures are taken.
Where CFTC works in Bolivia
CFTC partners with local Bolivian organizations that serve migrant Indigenous families living in peri-urban areas in the highlands, which are areas of land outside an urban city that have both urban and rural characteristics. In these areas, poverty rates are high and there is less access to essential services like electricity, sewage and water. Fresh produce is limited and expensive.
Bolivia’s most vulnerable groups – largely Indigenous people who represent close to half of the population – experience much discrimination. In fact, Bolivia has one of the highest levels of inequality between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous communities in Bolivia, like the ones that CFTC works in, account for 44 percent of the population but 75 percent of multidimensionally poor people, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
These challenges are exacerbated by an accelerating climate crisis. In 2023, Bolivia faced record-breaking high temperatures, reporting one of the highest winter temperatures ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere in the month of August. This has caused many crops to fail, including the potato, which has been a staple food in high-altitude communities for generations.
CFTC’s local partners, Tomas Katari Politecnic Institute (IPTK) and Sociedad Catolica De San Jose (SCSJ) are both providing essential services for children and their families in these Indigenous, highland communities.
Thanks to donors like you, IPTK and SCSJ are working with communities to overcome these challenges by providing families with tools and training for home gardens, nutrition education, and new business ventures, the majority of which are women-led. We’re also working to strengthen children’s education through after-school programs and sexual reproductive health training.