Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people live in poverty, working as farmers, miners and traders. Preventable diseases claim the lives of thousands of infants and children every year, and the number of women who die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth is extremely high. Conditions are particularly dire for Bolivia’s indigenous people who live in rural areas where there is little access to health services.
PCI has been working in Bolivia since 1980, improving the health and well-being of children and families living in poor, rural communities. Today, PCI continues to increase the quality of life for Bolivia’s indigenous populations through targeted interventions in health, agriculture, the environment, education, water and sanitation, income generation and youth programs. In 2013, PCI invested in the development of a local NGO – Impacto Positivo en la Comunidad (IPC) – to further promote local capacity building and deepen program impact.
FOOD SECURITY & LIVELIHOODS
PCI’s MIS Llamas (Integral and Sustainable Management of Llamas) project is helping Bolivian llama producers to significantly improve their livelihoods through improved llama husbandry. PCI trains farmers on ways to improve the production and value of their llamas, including better management of native prairies used for foraging; llama nutrition and health; protection during infancy and from harsh weather conditions through corral construction; and improved quality of llama by-products. These efforts have reduced llama mortality by 64% since 2004.
PCI also expanded its efforts to help llama farmers and their families increase the sale and commercialization of llama by-products by forming nearly 40 producer committees, which sell products that include leather purses and briefcases; fresh and preserved meats; llama fiber (wool) clothing; and finished handicrafts. These grass-roots groups have helped to foster new business skills and sources of income for MIS Llamas participants, particularly rural women, who have begun to travel to regional and national fairs to sell their products. Their ability to innovate and improve the quality of llama products has helped the “MIS Llamas” brand make a name for itself in the Bolivian marketplace.
- From 2004-2011, annual income from the sale of llamas and value-added llama products increased more than three-fold as a result of PCI’s training and education activities.
IMPROVING EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT & NUTRITION
In partnership with local municipal governments and the USDA, PCI is reducing malnutrition rates and improving learning among rural Bolivian schoolchildren in the departments of La Paz, Oruro, Potosi and Cochabamba. By improving the capacity of schools to provide students with a daily hot meal, PCI’s school breakfast program helps alleviate student’s hunger, thereby enabling them to concentrate and learn during class.
Each school participating in PCI’s school breakfast program creates a parent-teacher association through which parents donate their time to prepare the meals and learn about proper nutrition and ways to sustain the program long-term, including through engaging students in cultivating school based vegetable gardens and chicken farms. Sustainability is a key component of the program; to this end, PCI has successfully equipped 49 municipal governments with the know-how to procure food from local markets, ensure proper storage and handling, as well as program monitoring at the school level. Today these municipalities continue to provide daily meals to over 110,600 schoolchildren.
PCI’s innovative, savings-led self-help group model called GROW – or ‘Yanapacuna’ (We Help Ourselves) in Bolivia’s native Quechua – is a community-led economic and social empowerment model which increases livelihood opportunities for vulnerable households. Through the groups, men and women gain literacy skills and business training, and learn how to start sustainable businesses of their own. In addition to financial gain, group members report numerous other benefits, such as increased community leadership, greater self-sufficiency and tangible benefits for women in reproductive, maternal and child health.
Once established and operational, GROW groups become a sustainable, ongoing business and economic development platform that is entirely directed and administered by the members themselves, without outside management, resources or long-term external support. To date, 188 Yanapacuna groups comprised of over 3,000 members have collectively saved over $51,000 of their own money and have increased their self-esteem, leadership and sense of possibility for change in their own lives and in the community overall. PCI’s newly-formed local NGO “IPC” is leading the implementation and expansion of this initiative throughout Bolivia.
United States Department of Agriculture, several municipalities and departmental government agencies and private donors.
Click here to read PCI’s Bolivia fact sheet.