4,090 meters above sea level, Potosí is one of the highest cities in the world with a rare cold highland climate. Home to 264,000 inhabitants, it’s the largest urban center in the region and has long been a silver mining centre.
This minig has been a severe cause for pollution, and with raw material prices on the decline, many of the mines have now closed down. Unemployment and poverty affect the largely indigenous population. Here, children are often forced to work.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Potosí.
In Bolivia, indigenous communities account for about 44% of the population – but represent 75% of people living in multidimensionally poverty. In Potosí, a predominantly indigenous region, this means that a lot of the population cannot meet basic needs such as nutrition, sanitation, and adequate housing.
The COVID-19 pandemic came after a severe political crisis in 2019 and has impacted the socioeconomic situation and food security of Bolivians, especially those indigenous communities with precarious sources of income.
In Potosí, 126 per thousand children die before reaching their fifth birthday – that’s the highest rate of child mortality in the country. This number is a key indicator for child health and well-being. One of the reasons for high number of early childhood deaths is the water quality in the Potosí region: centuries of heavy mining activities have polluted and contaminated the local rivers. Here, clean drinking water is not available to all and is unfit for domestic or agricultural use. Growing up in these circumstances, where their basic needs are not met, has a substantial impact on a child's outlook on life and hopes for the future.