Results around the world – Bolivia

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Although classified as middle income, it is at the very low end of the scale. Since 2006, the Government of Bolivia has introduced economic and social reforms designed to meet the basic needs of the poorest people. As a result, there has been a decrease in extreme poverty—from 38% in 2005 to 17% in 2017. Still, Bolivia has one of the highest levels of extreme poverty in Latin America and the rate of poverty reduction has stagnated over the last few years. Indigenous people, who are the poorest and most vulnerable, represent approximately 65% of the country’s estimated 11.2 million people.

With strong economic growth, economic inequality has been reduced significantly since 2006. Nevertheless, both inequality and poverty remain high, particularly affecting rural areas and women. This situation is often compounded, particularly in rural communities, because Bolivia’s diverse and fragile ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Women and girls have not benefited equally from economic growth. They are often marginalized, suffer violence and have limited access to, and control over, productive resources. The Government of Bolivia’s development plan aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2025.

In Bolivia, Canada’s development program focuses on promoting the rights of women, adolescents and girls, particularly sexual and reproductive health services and rights; reducing maternal and child mortality; working on growth that works for every one by diversifying local economies and focusing on women’s economic empowerment; and encouraging the participation of women in all spheres of society.

Target populations include Indigenous populations, women and youth. In 2017-18, Canada held scores of meetings with organizations and associations in order to gather information on the needs and perspectives of communities.

Key results

Canada is investing in poverty reduction for vulnerable populations in Bolivia. Between 2011 and 2018, the Government of Canada, in partnership with SOCODEVI—a Quebec-based network of cooperatives— implemented a project that established a new spice value chain, enabling Bolivia to become one of the leading oregano exporting countries. Overall, the project enabled 13,626 people in rural Indigenous communities, including 7,075 women, to triple their income. In 2017-2018, 132 new families took part in gender-based training leading to a commitment to joint male/female decision making, and 161 women expressed confidence in their new business skills learned through training in the project’s final year (1,218 women were trained in total during the project’s 7 years).  Women farmers in five regions of Bolivia are now present at every level of this new spice value chain. The project also promoted climate-smart agricultural practices to over 240 agricultural families in 2017-2018, which enabled them to earn a stable income year-round, thereby reducing rural exodus and, through adapted cultivars and sound farming practices, improve resilience to climate change.

Canada is also supporting sustainable economic growth through education initiatives. Between 2012 and 2018, the Government of Canada partnered with Colleges and Institutes Canada on a $7.7 million project to improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and to enhance students’ opportunities to integrate into the labour market in Bolivia. Seven innovative vocational training programs in the agricultural and extractive sectors were designed with participating TVET institutes, incorporating the cross-cutting themes of gender equality, environment and governance. In 2017/2018, 315 (97 women and 218 men) teachers were trained to develop programs under a competency-based approach, aligning available training with labour-market demand. This contributed to improved quality and delivery of TVET programs in the participating institutes. Management capacity of the Ministry of Education’s Directorate for TVETs was also improved, a process that involved 55 managers (8 women and 47 men). Also in 2017/2018, a 7-year strategic plan (2018-2025), which includes a sustainability strategy, was developed for the TVET’s Directorate at the MoE and each of the 7 participating TVET institutes.

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