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.
For nearly a decade, PCI’s MIS Llamas (Integral and Sustainable Management of Llamas) project helped Bolivian llama producers to significantly improve their livelihoods through improved llama husbandry. PCI trained 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.
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 students’ 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 Women Empowered (WE) – 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 financial 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-efficacy and tangible benefits for women in reproductive, maternal and child health.
Once established and operational, WE 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, 910 Yanapacuna groups comprised of over 17,600 members have collectively saved over $216,300 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 local NGO, “IPC,” is leading the implementation and expansion of this initiative throughout Bolivia.