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Bolivia, Plurinational State of


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This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

In late 2005 Bolivians elected a new President on a programme of alleviating poverty and ending discrimination toward Bolivia’s indigenous peoples, who have long been marginalized despite comprising a majority of the country’s population. Infant and maternal mortality rates have shown improvement over the past decade, but rates of mortality, poverty and illiteracy remain higher in rural indigenous communities.

Issues facing children in Bolivia

  • In winter 2007, Bolivia was hit with its worst flooding in 25 years, affecting as many as 400,000 people in eight of the country’s nine departments. At least 5,000 families were forced into temporary shelters, and others faced the threat of an increase in infectious disease due to lack of clean water and adequate sanitation.
  • More than a quarter of Bolivian children suffer from moderate or severe stunting resulting from malnutrition.
  • Reported HIV/AIDS prevalence is low, but some estimates place the actual numbers much higher. The population remains vulnerable due to migratory patterns from rural to urban areas and lack of information regarding transmission and prevention.
  • National net primary school enrolment rates top 95 per cent, but the quality of education has room for improvement and only half of rural children complete primary school.
  • There are approximately 800,000 child and adolescent workers in Bolivia out of a total under-eighteen population of 4.1 million.
  • Large segments of the population lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. The flooding of early 2007 has only exacerbated this problem.

Activities and results for children

  • In the wake of the 2007 floods, UNICEF helped provide water, sanitation, food, shelter and educational supplies to displaced victims.
  • Health, nutrition and early childhood development programmes are improving the quality of life in more than 50 impoverished municipalities with mostly indigenous populations. 
  • Health-care workers have visited thousands of villages that lack formal clinics, treating more than 42,000 young children and 10,000 pregnant women.
  • UNICEF-supported vaccination campaigns have increased immunization coverage in high-risk districts.
  • Four hundred doctors have been trained to treat children with HIV/AIDS and prevent mother-to-child transmission.
  • In 2007, the Bolivian Ministry of Defence and UNAIDS began implementing an HIV/AIDS awareness program in the armed forces, with the aim of spreading knowledge more widely among young people.
  • The Indigenous Girls’ Education project built boarding schools for more than 2,000 girls. A transportation system now delivers 1,500 rural students to classes, eliminating long, risky walks. Radio spots broadcast in rural areas also encourage parents to keep their children – especially girls – in school.
  • The child-friendly schools initiative has improved hundreds of schools through teacher training, innovative approaches, new educational materials and sports equipment.
  • UNICEF and its partners are providing health care and educational opportunities for hundreds of girls living and working on the streets.
  • UNICEF is working to eliminate child labour in the sugar cane harvest. Children in the harvest camps received tutoring, school materials and health care.
  • A groundbreaking UNICEF-sponsored study is casting new light on the extent of sexual violence against children.



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