In southern Bolivia, next to the border with Argentina, Tarija has a population of 234,000. In contrast to the cold of the Altiplano and the humid heat of the Amazon basin, its climate is semi-arid with generally mild temperatures. The conditions are ideal to grow sugar cane, fruits, and wine grapes in the hilly surroundings of the town.
Tarija is a flourishing wine-growing region, but socio-economic inequalities remain striking here, particularly among children.
Since 1992, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Tarija.
It's the lowest national average: in Tarija, only 92% of the young people who’ve attended primary school move on to study in lower secondary school. That number is as high as 98% in the eastern region of Oruro, for example.
The fact that so many young people drop out of education reflects the educational challenges Tarija is facing. That’s often because children have to work to contribute to the family income, which leaves them no time to study or sleep sufficiently, eventually causing them to give up their education altogether.
Around 14% of Bolivian children aged 5 to 17 years old are trapped in child labour – often out of economic necessity.
In the Tarija area, where agriculture is the predominant industry, the sugar cane and Brazil nut harvest seasons attract over 3,000 internal migrants. This movement of population increases the vulnerability of the workers – many of them children – to forced labour and human trafficking. These families need support so that children can be safe and healthy. Going to school and receiving further training is key for them to learn professional skills and live a successful life later on.