Located in central Bolivia, in a valley of the Andes mountains, Cochabamba is the capital of the Cochabamba department and home to 631,000 inhabitants and 1.4 million people live in the metropolitan area.
Known as the granary of Bolivia, the region has always seen a lot of agricultural activity. Its economy has diversified over recent years though, making Cochabamba a major industrial area. But, unfortunately, this does not mean that poverty has disappeared – the gap between rich and poor is acutely visible in and around Cochabamba.
Children, young people and families need support so that they can improve their lives and stay together.
Since 1995, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Cochabamba-Jordán.
Anemia, malnutrition, obesity – child malnutrition continues to be a problem in all of Bolivia. Although Cochabamba is an agricultural area, 22 out of 100 children younger than five years old suffer from chronic malnutrition. Of these 6 are acutely underweight, and 17 are overweight. In fact, 66 per cent of chronically malnourished children are overweight or obese.
This combination is known as the double burden of childhood malnutrition that is widespread in the Andean region. It is essential to provide children and adolescents with access to nutritious food so they can grow healthy.
Safe drinking water and sanitation are crucial to human health and well-being. But only 70 per cent of Cochabamba’s population has access to an improved water source, leaving 30 per cent to use unprotected wells or springs, or carts with tanks or drums. If the local families cannot use those or buy bottled water, they might have to drink water coming directly from the rivers, lakes, or irrigation channels in their area.
Children who drink unsafe water are often affected by illnesses such as diarrhea, and those ground and surface waters used to drink, irrigate and bath get contaminated. Safe water is essential to children’s health.