Photo: WFP/Morelia Erostegui/2020

Bolivia

16%

16% of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished

1/3

1/3 of Bolivians in rural areas cannot afford a basic food basket

22%

Without progress in adapting to climate change, hunger will increase by 22%

The Situation

In the last decade, Bolivia has made significant progress on improving food and nutrition security and reducing extreme poverty. Due to this notable socioeconomic improvement, Bolivia accomplished a middle-income status. However, Bolivia remains among the poorest countries in South America. Four out of ten women still live in poverty, and the frequency of gender-based violence remains worryingly high.

Malnutrition remains a major public health concern. While the stunting rate for children under the age of 5 has dropped from 33 to 16% in ten years, in rural areas it remains as high as 23.7%. Nutritional problems are caused primarily by inadequate diets and poor consumption of nutritious, local foods.

Bolivia is considered the most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change in South America. The government declared a national emergency due to drought in 2016 and in 2018 due to floods. Analysts predict that vulnerability to hunger will increase by 22% by the 2050s unless measures are taken to adapt to a changing climate. Recurring droughts, floods, frosts and hail aggravate the situation of the agricultural sector, threatening the food security of the most vulnerable groups.

WFP's Work

WFP has been present in Bolivia since 1963. With the improvement of socio-economic conditions and Bolivia reaching middle-income country status, WFP’s role is evolving from directly providing assistance to supporting the government’s efforts to address food insecurity and malnutrition through technical assistance, advocacy and communications.

  • Nutrition: WFP is supporting government-led campaigns to raise awareness on nutritional issues and promote healthy diets.
  • Small-scale farmers: Through WFP’s Food for Assets (FFA) program, small-scale farmers receive cash assistance to meet their food and nutritional needs in exchange for building or rehabilitating infrastructure. Farmers also receive training to diversify livelihoods and are linked with social safety net programs like school meals.
  • Resilience work: WFP provides people affected by natural disasters with cash assistance to access to the food they need. In exchange, they engage in activities that will help them withstand and respond to shocks better in the future including the creation of canals, bridges, wells, dykes and roads.
  • Capacity Strengthening: WFP is providing technical assistance to partner government institutions to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of national programs for food security, nutrition, disaster preparedness and response.

In 2020, WFP programs reached 41,314 Bolivians. Nearly $1M dollars was distributed through cash-based assistance.