Since 2009, Bolivia has undergone a process of important political and social reform, accompanied by solid economic growth. Extreme poverty has dropped from 37% in 2005 to 17% in 2014, moving from a low-income economy to a lower/middle-income one. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin, and has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America. However, Bolivia still faces considerable development challenges mainly linked to the high inequality in income distribution, institutional capacities and the pressure on natural resources.

EU cooperation 2014–2020

For the period 2014–2020 Bolivia will receive assistance for a budget of €281 million with three priorities, namely justice reform, fight against illicit drugs and integrated water management. This choice has been made on the basis of the Bolivian agenda 2025 which sets out the long term development vision of the country and in coordination with EU Member States and other donors. EU interventions are drawn up within the broader context of EU external policies, notably the Agenda for Change and the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, as well as the 2030 horizon and the international commitments on climate change.

EU cooperation 2007–2013

During this period, the EU provided €249 million assistance to Bolivia under the Development Cooperation Instrument for the following priorities for sustainable management of natural resources, fight against drug production and trafficking and the generation of economic opportunities.

As a result, with the EU's support during the last 5 years, drinking water connections have been built for more than 270,000 people and basic sanitation for more than 100,000. The EU has also backed the Bolivian strategy for alternative development, fighting against drug trafficking and the reduction of coca crops. These reforms, along with the EU cooperation programmes, have led in the last five years to an unprecedented 35% net reduction of coca cultivated surfaces in a peaceful manner. At the same time, a significant number of people in coca growing areas have moved above the poverty line and have received access to basic social services, such as health, education, water and sanitation.

The EU is also financing activities in Bolivia in the fields of human rights, food security, environment, health, gender equality and de-centralised cooperation; the EU also co-finances projects with non-governmental organisations. At present some 50 thematic projects are implemented for a total of nearly €18 million, the large share of which focus on support to civil society organisations and local authorities.

Key country statistics

  • Total population (2015): 10 725 000
  • Life expectancy (at birth) (2015): 65 years (male), 70 years (female)
  • Human Development Index - Medium human development (2014): 0.662
  • Population living below $1.90 a day (2013): 7.7%
  • Income share held by lowest 40% of income distribution (2013): 12.1%
  • Lower middle income country - Gross National Income per capita (2014): 1 334 US$ (constant 2005 US$)
  • Average Gross Domestic Product growth over 5 years (2010-2014): 5.3%

Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015

Employment and Social Protection

  • The working conditions of 7 600 miners were enhanced through the adoption of better environmental practices
  • 230 miners received vocational training and found employment in sectors other than mining

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change

  • A management plan for the Lake Poopó basin was adopted and served as guidance and planning tool for water resource management and local development
  • 100 hectares of land were reforested at Lake Poopó basin to protect the environment in the area
  • Local environmental units were created in 6 municipalities of the Lake Poopó basin to strengthen local organizations and institutions in their efforts towards local economic development
  • 90 000 hectares of land in the Bolivian Amazon are better protected and managed thanks to the introduction of internal quality management systems by associations of chestnut harvesters
  • 4 indigenous communities of the native community lands Territorios Comunitarios Originarios applied a tool for the control and surveillance of the adaptation to climate change

Water and Sanitation

  • 7 000 inhabitants from 10 communities of the Lake Poopó basin benefitted from the provision of potable water through new water supply connections


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