Swiss development cooperation in Bolivia focuses on decentralisation and human rights, adjustment to climate change, and employment and income. Bolivia's increasing urbanisation is posing new challenges for development cooperation. Besides rural development, the current focus is also on improving the delivery of services in peri-urban areas.

Map of Bolivia

Since 2005, Bolivia has experienced economic and income growth, which is attributable to exports of natural gas, oil and mineral products. The government's income redistribution programmes have resulted in a reduction of poverty. Nonetheless, Bolivia remains the poorest country in South America. About half the population is still living below the poverty line (2011). The majority of Bolivians work in the informal sector under very difficult conditions.

Switzerland is helping to ensure that the additional public resources that are now available benefit the most disadvantaged people. Its efforts are focused on rural and peri-urban areas in the highlands and in the Andean valleys. Switzerland coordinates its activities with other bilateral donors and multilateral organisations that are active in Bolivia.

Decentralisation and human rights

Promoting autonomy and participation at the municipal level

Swiss development cooperation is making a valuable contribution to the decentralisation process in Bolivia – a process that is proving to be successful. Specifically, Switzerland is helping to improve the quality of and access to municipal services in the education and healthcare sectors.

Switzerland also promotes women's rights by supporting women in political office at the municipal level and by helping victims of violence to obtain access to a comprehensive, municipal legal service known as Integral Municipal Legal Service (“Servicio Legal Integral Municipal” SLIM). Between 2008 and 2012, Switzerland supported this legal service in 17 municipalities.

To improve disadvantaged groups' access to justice, Switzerland also supports the government's efforts to establish alternative conflict resolution mechanisms. Switzerland also supports the national public defence authority (“Servicio nacional de defensa pública”), whose remit includes defending the rights of the accused, and the ombudsman's office (“Defensoría del pueblo”), which is tasked with protecting human rights.

Adapting to climate change

Risk prevention and improving resilience

Swiss development cooperation personnel have a wealth of experience in managing natural resources. The sustainable use of land and an integrated management of river basins are at the core of development cooperation efforts.

The disaster risk reduction (DDR) project is helping Bolivia to cope with the effects of natural disasters on the population, the infrastructure and the economy. Twenty-four municipalities have already earmarked funds in their annual budgets for DDR efforts to be carried out by the end of 2013.

In urban areas, environmental pollution poses a serious health risk for the inhabitants. The poorest population groups, women and children are particularly affected. From 2014, Switzerland will step up its efforts to support medium-sized cities in overcoming their environmental problems.

Employment and income

Increasing productivity and economic diversification

To promote economic development in rural areas, in 2013 some 20,000 agricultural producers were given access to financial and other services. As a result, they were able to increase their production and to improve the processing and marketing of their goods and services.

The SDC focuses its efforts on optimising the value chains of selected products. In particular, public-private cooperation along these value chains is being improved by means of specially developed platforms. By 2013, more than 8,000 producers were ready to become actively involved.

In the area of technical and vocational training, between 2009 and 2013, the SDC trained more than 10,000 people and offered training courses to more than 5,000 individuals to increase their chances of finding a job, starting their own business and boosting their income-earning capacity.

History of cooperation

Switzerland's long-standing commitment is highly appreciated

Switzerland's long-standing and successful development cooperation efforts are held in high regard in Bolivia. Since 1969, Switzerland has been active in the area of development cooperation in Bolivia, and since 1981 Bolivia has been one of the SDC's priority countries. In view of Bolivia's urbanisation, Switzerland's development cooperation efforts since 2013 have no longer focused exclusively on rural development, but also on improving the delivery of services in peri-urban areas.


Cooperation Strategy Bolivia 2013–2016 (PDF, Number of pages 29, 883.1 kB, German)

Latin Brief June 2017: Prevention rather than punishment: a life free of violence for the women of Bolivia 

Latin Brief January 2016: Supporting food security in Bolivia: Sowing beans, sowing hope 

Latin Brief 1/2015: Professional education in bolivia:
“We need more electricians and fewer lawyers (PDF, Number of pages 4, 669.1 kB, English)

Latin Brief Juillet 2013: «The municipality is all of us» - How the Swiss Cooperation supports decentralisation in Bolivia (PDF, Number of pages 4, 879.3 kB, English)

Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining in Latin America and Asia (Mongolia) (PDF, Number of pages 8, 12.6 MB, English)
SDC experiences with Formalization and Responsible Environmental Practices

Un seul monde (PDF, Page 1, 11.1 MB, French)

No. 4/2011: La planète urbaine – Un reportage à La Paz-El Alto

Latin Brief: Comment la Bolivie protège la biodiversité et combat la pauvreté (fr) (PDF, Number of pages 4, 518.3 kB, French)

Un seul monde (fr) (PDF, Number of pages 36, 6.4 MB, French)

No. 4/2009: Crise financière / Réformes en Bolivie / Droits de l’homme et changement climatique

3 concrete Storys of ownership and local leadership of SDC in Bolivia, Benin and Nepal (PDF, Number of pages 2, 836.7 kB)

Blog: Experiences from editorial departments
The SDC and the Swiss journalism school, MAZ, give Swiss media professionals the chance to get to know editorial teams in southern countries. In their blog, the journalists and photographers relate their experiences in Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos, Bolivia and Tunisia.