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CRS in Bolivia

Stretching from the Andes Mountains to tropical Amazonia, Bolivia is a very diverse country. Although it has a large indigenous population, native people historically have lacked access to basic services and have been excluded from the political system.

At the same time, severe storms normally associated by El Niño periods, typically occurring every seventh year, are becoming more frequent. Changing weather patterns due to climate change have resulted in rapid melting of glaciers, droughts, floods, forest fires and erosion. The largely rural and indigenous population living in the Altiplano is disproportionately affected by climate change as most depend heavily on subsistence agriculture.

Significant social and economic transformation began in Bolivia in 2006, and many changes designed to guarantee justice and equality for all were enshrined in the new Constitution, which took effect in 2009. Nevertheless, it is still difficult for the government to meet the entire population's needs for health care, water and sanitation coverage, agricultural services and education, especially in rural and peri-urban communities where Catholic Relief Services works.

In addition, many families face food insecurity because much of the local diets consist of potatoes and cereals with minimal consumption of vegetables or meat. In order to respond to these needs, CRS is currently working with experienced partners on several local projects focusing on water and sanitation, agricultural development and natural resource management. 


People Served: 42,846 (FY 2014: 25,512 direct; 17,334 indirect)

Population: 10,847,664 (October 2014 est.) 

Size: 1,098,581 sq km; three times the size of Montana

CRS' History in Bolivia

Since 1955, Catholic Relief Services has worked with our partners in the Catholic Church to improve the quality of life of poor Bolivians. Whether providing housing, water and sanitation systems, agriculture assistance, emergency response, or natural resource management, our work in Bolivia strives to strengthen the capacity of the communities we serve to take control of their own development and achieve long-term change.

CRS has more than 15 years of experience implementing interventions for potable water, basic sanitation and training communities on water and sanitation throughout Bolivia. Our WASH interventions have focused on the protection of water resources through soil conservation and land cover; regular monitoring of water quality; raising awareness about environmental issues; and influencing public policy and public spending for watershed conservation. Consequently, target communities have been able to improve their access to a higher quantity and quality of water for human consumption and small-scale production.

The provision of water has allowed families to take part in crop irrigation, allowing them to diversify their traditionally carbohydrate-rich diets through greater production and consumption of organic vegetables. That provides durable solutions to food insecurity and alternatives for income generation for vulnerable families living in marginal neighborhoods which often lack access to basic public services.

Through the years, CRS has helped to improve the quality of life of thousands of Bolivians, shifting the focus from delivery of humanitarian assistance to an integral approach to development that strives to achieve long-term sustainability.