WASH empowers girls and boys

Location: Bolivia (National)
Duration: 4 years
Total cost: 1,210,000 USD

Improving hygiene in Bolivia’s rural communities

Problem statement

Bolivia successfully met the Millennium Development Goal for access to water by the end of 2015. Despite this impressive accomplishment, the country is still one of the most disadvantaged in the region and significant internal disparities exist with regard to access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Furthermore, a significant gap exists between urban and rural areas: While 95% of the urban population accesses improved water sources, only 72% of rural dwellers benefit from the same; and while 79% of the urban population has access to improved sanitation, only 32% of the rural population has these services.

Deficient or non-existent sanitation systems perpetuate the practice of open defecation, contribute to diarrhoeal infections, and harm the education process for children, especially girls. The lack of toilets and WASH infrastructure makes menstrual hygiene management an enormous challenge for adolescent girls, as does the absence of supplies (like sanitary pads), support and information.

This lack of information on hygiene (especially on the three key practices ), poor menstrual hygiene management and water related diseases, such as diarrhoea, threaten children’s health and survival. Despite being easily prevented, diarrhoea can be especially severe without the proper treatment and is still one of the main causes of death in children under-five in rural areas of Bolivia.


While significant progress is being made in water service coverage and some key policies have been implemented to promote hygiene in rural areas of Bolivia , progress has not been sufficient to guarantee a significant impact on health, especially for the most vulnerable children and adolescents. Improving community health is only possible in a scenario where initiatives to improve water, sanitation and promote behaviour and social change around WASH practices are equally successful.

Project / programme strategy

In the 2013 – 2017 Country Programme signed by UNICEF and the Bolivian Government, UNICEF committed to influence policy and strengthen services at all levels to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children, especially in indigenous communities. Part of this commitment is to improve maternal and child health by strengthening WASH services and practices in the hardest to reach communities. To achieve this goal, UNICEF aims to work with the Government of Bolivia at all levels and local partners to replicate best practice models and build local capacity to address young people’s needs in the areas of hygiene promotion, menstrual hygiene management, and reducing diarrheal infections to improve overall nutritional status.

Objectives of the Action

The overall objective: To improve social and individual behaviour linked to hygiene practices, especially in vulnerable populations.

The specific objectives are to:

  • Build subnational (regional) governments’ capacities to implement programmes and strategies that spur on behaviour change, especially with regard to the adoption of hygiene practices.
  • Build capacities in municipalities to reduce diarrheal infections and implement hygiene promotion, including menstrual hygiene management in educational communities.


  • Communities in rural areas
  • The Ministries of Water, Environment and Health
  • Departmental governments
  • Academia and civil society organizations

Target groups

  • Girls, boys and adolescents, especially in the hardest to reach communities
  • The educational community – schools, informal education mechanisms, parents and community leaders
  • Local media
  • National and subnational authorities

Main activities

  • Promote the incorporation and prioritization of hygiene approaches into policies and practices using methods that embrace diverse cultural approaches and gender equality.
  • Strengthen and develop local capacities for hygiene promotion at individual and social level.
  • Build strategic partnerships and collaborative relationships to increase awareness and agree on a common agenda for hygiene promotion and menstrual hygiene management.
  • Scale up successful hygiene promotion initiatives:
    • Promote tools for improving life skills, empowerment and behaviour change at the subnational level.
    • Document lessons learned in order to improve evidence-based decision making.
  • Strengthen institutional capacities at national and subnational level to identify, plan and implement gender-sensitive priorities in WASH, including menstrual hygiene management.
  • Provide monitoring and evaluation support for the following:
    • Implementation of continuous efforts to improve hygiene and sanitation that encourage the use of existing platforms.
    • Building alliances and sustainable commitments at all levels.
    • Strengthening human and institutional capacity to improve the decision-making process.


Activity Expresed in USD
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Total
1. Advocacy to promote the incorporation and prioritization of hygiene practices into policies 25,00025,00025,00025,000100,000
2. Communication for Development initiatives and an educational package 50,00050,00050,00050,000200,000
3. Partnership building to develop a common agenda for hygiene promotion and menstrual hygiene management 25,00025,00025,00025,000100,000
4. Scaling up successful experiences 100,000100,000100,000100,000400,000
5. Technical assistance to strengthen institutional capacities at national and subnational level and local capacities for hygiene promotion 50,00050,00050,00050,000200,000
6. Monitoring and evaluation 20,00020,00020,00020,00080,000
7. External communications and visibility 5,0005,0005,0005,00020,000
Total programmable amount 275,000275,000275,000275,0001,110,000
Recovery cost (10%) 27,50027,50027,50027,500110,000
Total required budget 302,500302,500302,500302,5001,210,000
Pedro Pablo Palma,
Chief Child Survival and Development,
Tel: +591.2.2623.220