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Our work in Bolivia

Overview

Some sociopolitical stability has returned in Bolivia since Luis Arce of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party was elected president in late 2020.

Improving indicators have allowed the Bolivian economy to approach regional averages. In 2021, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.1 per cent because of rising domestic and external demand and strong raw material (mineral) prices.

The bulk of the growth occurred in the mining, construction, transport and communications sectors. However, agriculture and livestock production, grew by just 1.8 per cent, which was even less than the already low 3.1 per cent growth in 2020. This has had a huge impact on the living conditions of Indigenous peasant families and rural communities. The urban unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent in 2020 to 5.2 per cent in 2021. The prevalence precarious employment decreased year on year but remains high compared to past years, with women being most affected.

The Bolivian government declared 2022 as the Year of the Cultural Revolution for Depatriarchalisation for a Life Free of Violence against Women. This vision is significant for the advancement of women’s rights and has been integrated by several of our partners into their training activities.

However, the rival presidential aspirations of Arce, Evo Morales and David Choquehuanca are fomenting a new political crisis. Arce’s government used to work in close coordination with the MAS party, but recently, its president, Morales, seems to have declared an open political war, with the direction of the party ahead of the 2025 elections being the bone of contention.

Our work in Bolivia

Démocratie et participation citoyenne | Democracy and citizen participation icon
Democracy and citizen participation
Climat et justice écologique | Climate and ecological justice icon
Ecological justice
Justice pour les femmes | Justice for women icon
Justice for women

By fostering the socioeconomic development of participating communities, our partners’ work helps reduce poverty, particularly among women and Indigenous people. Our programming also strengthens rural relationships and mobilization by promoting democracy, civic participation, and gender justice through various training and capacity building workshops.

Examples include:

  • Gender-responsive people’s budgets; municipal management with participatory planning and social control; and women’s leadership

  • The development and implementation of plans to combat gender-based violence

  • Training in information and communications technology (ICT) management for the leaders of the La Paz Association of Women’s Centres to enhance their managerial autonomy

  • Economic initiatives in the handicraft and natural resources sectors (wool, weaving, cactus sculpting, tourism, etc.) for women and young people in three Uros Indigenous communities in Puñaca, Vilañeque et Llapallapani

  • Strengthening cultural identity by organizing and participating in various handicraft exhibitions


Our partners are also addressing food sovereignty and ecological justice at a time when climate change is contributing to extended, disastrous spells of heavy rainfall. They provide training on:

  • Hydroponic and home garden cultivation of nutritional and medicinal plants

  • Dairy production (cheese, yogurt and ice cream)

  • Marketing dairy and bakery products (including biscuits and pea and bean flour breads) at food fairs

What is next for our work?

Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada remains committed to programming that empowers local people through civil society engagement.

Family and community-based agriculture that respects the environment is at the heart of our food sovereignty efforts.

Capacity building for the leaders of our partner organizations, most of whom are Indigenous women peasants in impoverished peri-urban and rural communities, is a priority for us in Bolivia. It helps improve families’ living conditions by creating alternative income streams.

Resources

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