At over 13, 335 ft, El Alto's International Airport serves the Bolivian Capital city of La Paz. 20,000 foot high Huayna Potosi peak is in the background.

Read: Latest news from Bolivia

Bolivia is a land of extremes in many categories. One of its extremes is poverty. In fact, Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Over 60% of the population in Bolivia are of indigenous heritage, including Aymará, Quechua, Guaraní and over 30 other ethnic groups. Over half of these indigenous groups live in extreme poverty.

Chronic malnutrition faces 28% of indigenous children compared to 16% among the rest of the population. Infant mortality rates among indigenous people are 62 per 1,000 live births, twice what the rate is for non-indigenous groups. Poverty is a constant companion for many in Bolivia and the naturally sparse landscape along the high plains of the Andes adds to the difficulty by making life-sustaining agricultural endeavors even more challenging.

CHOICE Humanitarian has been working in the Altiplano ‘high plains’ region of Bolivia for over 25 years to help build a self-sustaining infrastructure in dozens of impoverished Aymará villages. While the need for even simple improvements like basic sanitation is critical, dramatic progress is being made.

Willy Mendoza, the CHOICE Humanitarian In-country Director, believes “True poverty is the lack of options.” With Willy and his staff, CHOICE Humanitarian’s working strategy for Bolivia includes schools, micro-credit and micro-enterprise programs, clean water systems and latrine programs that offer option, choices and fundamental health systems. The Aymará heritage of Willy and his wife Maxima gives them a special understanding of the culture and needs of the Aymará people. It also gives them an edge when it comes to implementing village-requested programs and projects.

The work and partnerships created by CHOICE Humanitarian in Bolivia are virtually unique among U.S. non-government organizations working in development. CHOICE Humanitarian is one of the few U.S. - based organizations allowed by the Bolivian government to work in Bolivia. CHOICE has a long record of trust and accomplishment in Bolivia that we are honored to uphold.

Latest news from Bolivia
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Bowler hats or ‘bombins’, colorful fabrics and hand knit clothing are essentials in any Aymará wardrobe

CHOICE - Bolivia By the Numbers

  • Bolivian villages where CHOICE has worked: 485+
  • Bolivians that have been directly impacted by CHOICE: 162,000
  • Bolivians that have been indirectly impacted by CHOICE: 250,000

Village Progress at a Glance - Bolivia

  • Weaver's cooperative organized
  • CHOICE Humanitarian new fabricating workshop
  • Dairy cooperative project in Muro Amaya, Bolivia underway
  • CHOICE Humanitarian fabricating workshop under construction
  • 35-mile Community water system completed in Huayconi - longest ever in Bolivia!
  • Water systems completed in Huancane & Suriquena
  • 2 Eco-friendly Solar classrooms completed
  • Greenhouse classrooms constructed
  • CHOICE Humanitarian Center in Viacha completed, furnished, and hosting current interns and expeditions.
  • Formal 'continuing education' and training for CHOICE Humanitarian Bolivia staff in La Paz, Bolivia
  • CHOICE Bolivia staff expanded to include interns from France and U.K. Project/program evaluations being conducted.

Have a 35-Mile-Long Drink

Huayconi, Bolivia  –  Community water systems have been one of the most important technologies for villages in Bolivia to access safe drinking water. The CHOICE team has become expert in the implementation process. This year working side-by-side with villagers, CHOICE completed the largest water system ever in the region. Imagine hand-trenching 35 miles of pipe at 13,000 ft elevation just to have clean water! Huayconi, Bolivia is a motivated village.just the kind CHOICE loves to work with.

Learning with Vegetables

Batallas, Bolivia  –  After pilot testing and studying the impact of this new innovation to school room construction, the municipal government of Batallas, in collaboration with the CHOICE team, has determined that all their future schools will be built with this design. By turning one of the walls into greenhouse panels and allowing for gardens to be planted inside the schoolroom, children find themselves warm, comfortable and inspired for learning amongst vegetables they themselves are growing for their own school lunches. Teachers are seeing dramatic increases in classroom participation, focus and a huge improvement on their national exam results.

CHOICE Humanitarian Center Ready for Business

Viacha, Bolivia  –  The CHOICE Humanitarian Center located in Viacha, Bolivia has undergone a complete remodeling and re-construction process. It is furnished and ready to host interns, expeditions, partner NGO's and other visitors. The Center is now a self-sufficient income generating revenue source for the surrounding community. It is available for a very modest rent to NGOs and other organizations to hold workshops, retreats and other events. In July of 2010, the Center hosted its first CHOICE Humanitarian expedition keeping them cozy and warm during those frigid winter nights in the Altiplano.

The CHOICE Center in Bolivia will also double as a center of excellence in training women villagers in textile production of alpaca products and in teaching women to create festive ceramic pottery to market during the holidays.

Economic Development - We Can Build It

Viacha, Bolivia  –  A new CHOICE Humanitarian fabricating workshop is under construction. The workshop will increase production rates of village partner teams to fabricate hand-pumps, greenhouse structures, maintain vehicles and build a variety of equipment needed for village projects.

Even the Cows are Cooperating

Muro Amaya, Bolivia  –  The CHOICE team is also working on a diary cooperative project with the village of Muro Amaya, Bolivia in collaboration with the Municipal government of Torino, Italy.