Learning about Bolivia

For those interested, here is some information about Bolivia from the Canadian Government’s CIDA website (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/JUD-129112821-MBV)

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. One out of eight Bolivians lives on less than US$1.25/day, the most vulnerable being women and children living in rural areas, as well as indigenous people who make up 65 percent of the 10 million population. However, Bolivia has a relatively well-performing economy due to strong oil, natural gas, and mineral prices, and this has contributed to a decline in poverty rates in recent years. The 2009 global economic downturn did lower the country’s economic growth rate, but due to prudent fiscal management and stability in the financial sector, Bolivia is better positioned than many countries to weather that economic storm. Bolivia has the second largest reserve of natural gas in South America, vital to the economies of neighbouring Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Bolivia ranks 108 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s 2011 human development index. However, Bolivia’s health indicators are among the lowest in the Americas, with one child out of 16 dying before the age of five and one woman out of 89 dying during pregnancy or childbirth (UNDP). The poor health of Bolivians is closely tied to inadequate or non-existent infrastructure. More than 25 percent of Bolivians do not have access to safe drinking water, and 44 percent do not have access to basic sanitation services. Bolivia’s Ministry of Heath is demonstrating leadership in addressing these challenges but technical capacity is still lacking.

Bolivia has maintained a fairly peaceful democracy since 1982, although work remains to be done to improve the professionalism, accountability, and transparency of its democratic processes and institutions and to strengthen the rule of law.

Since January 2006, the Government of Bolivia has introduced economic and social reforms designed to meet the basic needs of the poorest people. Challenges remain. These include: inequality and exclusion, especially of the indigenous population; relatively nascent democratic institutions and internal political tensions; and diversification of its economy.

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