* Strong as a tree, free as a bird

Location: The Bolivian Amazon Basin – Tropics of Cochabamba, Beni and Pando
Duration: 3 years
Total cost: 9,405,000 USD

Improving children’s access to education while building resilience in the Bolivian Amazon

Problem statement

International debates on the future of the Amazon region regularly cover the impact of climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Yet, children’s rights and the future of the families who live there are all too often left out of these discussions. Today, children and adolescents in the Bolivian Amazon, particularly members of indigenous communities, still lack the protection and opportunities they need to survive and thrive.

New environmental challenges are compounding existing historical patterns of discrimination against families living in the Amazon and are producing new vulnerabilities. To reach these children and to reduce geographic, social, cultural, and gender disparities, UNICEF Bolivia’s Country Programme for 2013-2017, signed with the Government of Bolivia, positions children and adolescents living in the Bolivian Amazon at the centre of national and subnational public policies, programmes and budgets. This document explains the actions UNICEF and partners are planning to build resilience, address discrimination and prevent exclusion of children and adolescents living in the Bolivian Amazon basin.


The Bolivian Amazon is home to 30 indigenous nations, with rich socio-cultural heritages, living amidst immense biological diversity. Of a total population of 1,734,000 living in 89 municipalities, the indigenous population here is roughly 471,000, with 243,000 below age 18 and 45,000 below age five.

This unique part of the world is an epicenter of over-exploitation linked to regional and international market expansion and investment in soybean farming, cattle ranching, extractive industries, large infrastructure initiatives and other agribusiness. As a result of these unsustainable economic ventures, many indigenous groups as well as the flora and fauna around them are at risk of extinction. Such activities also deteriorate the ecosystem at an accelerated pace and increase natural disasters, chronic systemic crises, water contamination, droughts, illnesses, malnourishment, social conflict, displacement and mental health issues.

UNICEF aims to safeguard the rights of Bolivian children in the Amazon to survival, development and protection, giving emphasis – but not exclusivity – to the Amazon´s most excluded and disadvantaged children, its indigenous girls, boys and adolescents.

Programme strategy

UNICEF Bolivia’s programmes empower children and communities through child-centered, human rights-based advocacy and investments. With a focus on the life-long benefits of education, the programme proposed here will give children living in the Bolivian Amazon a strong start by guaranteeing quality intercultural, intracultural and bilingual education. This programme emphasizes early childhood development (ECD) at the community level and integrates child protection, hygiene and sanitation components. Addressing climate change and strengthening the resilience of children, families, communities and systems to natural disasters constitute a final core element of this programme.

The programme will be carried out at national, sub-national and community levels, with a specific focus in the departments of Cochabamba, Beni, Pando and, to some extent, Santa Cruz, which are home to 26 indigenous nations. The programme also aims to create an exchange with neighboring countries where UNICEF is present to discuss common strategic interventions, especially in data gathering and policy dialogue.

Objectives of the Action

The overall objective of this programme is to improve outcomes for children, putting a specific emphasis on indigenous and marginalized communities in remote, rural and marginal urban areas of the Amazon basin of Bolivia

The actions cover five pillars implemented at the national, regional and community levels:

  • Robust and sustained early childhood development programs implemented for and accessed by Amazonian children – with a strong health; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) components.
  • Bilingual, intercultural and gender sensitive education at both basic and secondary level that cover livelihoods.
  • Child protection systems that prevent violence against children – especially through efforts targeting adolescents and/or linked to gender and ethnic discrimination.
  • Capacity building efforts to build resilience of children, families, communities and systems to natural disasters, systemic crises and social conflicts, including strengthening negotiation and conflict resolution skills.
  • More effective data collection, analysis and research on the situation of Amazonian children.


  • Local level: various partners including teachers, health practitioners and community councils
  • Departmental level: Departmental Governments of Beni, Cochabamba and Pando; Departmental Directorates of Education; and Amazonian Indigenous People’s Educational Councils
  • National level: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environment and Water, Ministry of Productive Development, Ministry of Rural Development and the Prosecutor’s Office
  • Regional level: South-south cooperation with neighbouring Amazon countries for knowledge exchange, technical assistance and innovation

Target groups

  • Indigenous girls, boys and adolescents living in Bolivia’s Amazon basin
  • All children and adolescents living in marginalized communities in remote, rural and urban marginal areas of Bolivia’s Amazon basin

Main activities

This action plan uses a four-fold strategic approach to achieving results in each area:

  1. Evidence-based upstream policy advocacy for policy formulation and social investments.
  2. Technical assistance to enhance institutional capacity to deliver quality social services and address barriers and bottlenecks. This assistance will ensure participation and consultation with indigenous people.
  3. Development of cost-effective and high impact models that are culturally and gender sensitive.
  4. Creation of strategic partnerships with a specific focus on the private sector and corporate engagement.

The main programme activities and related actions are as follows:

  1. Strengthen and expand Integrated early child development programmes with robust health, nutrition and WASH components
    • Undertake a study to determine the situation of education in the Mojeño community. Then, develop and design curricula to promote early bilingual learning with the participation of parents and communities.
    • Improve knowledge, attitudes and practices related to hygiene – handwashing with soap and water treatment – through demonstrative models at the community level.
    • Strengthen capacities at departmental and municipal levels to develop and implement equity focused policies and plans concentrating on universal and sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
    • Provide technical assistance to remove service delivery blockages for WASH and early childhood development programmes.
    • Strengthen the monitoring system at national, departmental, municipal and community levels to ensure adequate information gathering and analysis of early childhood development, WASH and nutrition services.
  2. Improve learning outcomes for children in primary and secondary education
    • Develop and implement intercultural and multilingual education policies, and organise a new set of quantitative and qualitative indicators for education – with special focus on the Mojeño Community Education Council.
    • Enhance the capacity of the Institutes for Language and Culture (ILCs) in six indigenous communities.
    • Encourage the Indigenous Peoples’ Education Council (CEPO) to allocate public resources to vulnerable indigenous communities.
    • Promote good hygiene practices and integrate this work into teachers’ capacity building opportunities.
    • Conduct a specific study on menstrual hygiene management in the Amazon area to develop a comprehensive package of tools that help young people address related challenges.
  3. Prevent and respond to violence through solid child protection systems
    • Use the Community Approach to Child Protection model to strengthen capacities of local community promoters and volunteers.
    • Strengthen child protection mechanisms to help avoid revictimization of child victims of violence during criminal procedures – through capacity building of judicial staff based on the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
    • Support the implementation of child friendly judicial procedures to protect the victim.
    • Support the implementation of protocols to prevent sexual abuse and monitoring tools.
    • Provide technical assistance to implement effective policies to combat the trafficking of children, adolescents, and women.
    • Support data collection on child protection and children’s rights violations.
    • Provide technical assistance to promote and implement juvenile justice systems for adolescents in conflict with the law, including alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty.
    • Support the design of national and subnational plans the to prevent and eradicate child labour with a specific focus on Brazilian nut production chain, as one of the worst forms of child labour.
    • Build the capacity of specialized child protection services so that they can attend to sexual violence, employ a child friendly methodology and guarantee specialization of public officers such as judges, police, prosecutors, social workers, psychologists, and teachers, among others.
  4. Strengthen the resilience of children, families, communities and systems to natural disasters, systemic crises and climate change, including strengthening negotiation and conflict resolution skills
    • Promote child and adolescent participation in the development of policies and initiatives that address the impact climate change has on their lives.
    • Train the Drinking Water and Sanitation Committees (CAPyS) how to prepare, respond and recover from an emergency to guarantee the sustainability of WASH services and the monitoring and control of water quality at the community level (especially where water sources are highly vulnerable to contamination).
    • Strengthen/build a network of promoters for nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene programming who coordinate with municipal health centres.
    • Build capacities in the Autonomous Departmental Governments and Autonomous Municipal Governments to facilitate the proper flow of information during emergencies using instruments created by a central system.
    • Strengthen health workers’ and municipal officers’ capacities to gather information on WASH and nutrition before, during and after emergencies.
  5. Gather solid data
    • Improve research, data gathering and systems that cover Amazonian children.
    • Conduct real time monitoring through the development of a ‘sentinel surveillance’ system involving social centres and communities that collect information at the household level to address the challenge of low population density within a vast region (including remote areas with little infrastructure).
    • Undertake an analysis of the impact of climate change on children in the Bolivian Amazon basin.
    • Generate evidence on the impact of the Brazilian nut supply chain on children’s rights in the Amazon basin.
    • Generate evidence on how the extractive industry, especially oil and gas companies, working in the Bolivian Amazon are impacting the realization of children’s rights.
    • Work with the private sector operating in the Amazon basin to implement remediation policies regarding its impact on children’s rights.


Activity Expresed in USD
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
1. Start/strengthen early childhood development programmes for Amazonian children with strong health, nutrition and WASH components 650,000650,000650,0001,950,000
2. Strengthen basic and secondary bilingual, intercultural and gender sensitive education (including livelihood education) 400,000400,000400,0001,200,000
3. Address violence against children and adolescents (especially when linked to gender or ethnic discrimination) 400,000400,000400,0001,200,000
4. Build children, families, communities and systems’ resilience to natural disasters, systemic crises and social conflicts, including strengthening conflict resolution skills 300,000300,000300,000900,000
5. Improve data gathering, data systems on Amazonian children and research on Amazonian children’s issues 550,000550,000550,0001,650,000
6. Undertake Communication for Development (C4D) activities and visibility work 100,000100,000100,000300,000
7. Provide technical assistance to build the institutional capacity of national and local governments 300,000300,000300,000900,000
8. Monitoring and evaluation 150,000150,000150,000450,000
Total programmable amount 2,850,0002,850,0002,850,0008,550,000
Recovery cost (10%) 285,000285,000285,000855,000
Total required budget 3,135,0003,135,0003,135,0009,405,000
Anyoli Sanabria,
Chief of Education,
Tel: +591.2.2623.263