Santa Cruz

SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Bolivia).

The largest city in Bolivia, Santa Cruz is situated on the Pirai River in the eastern lowlands. It is home to 1, 9 million inhabitants, and 2.2 million people live in the metropolitan area. Located in the Amazon basin, Santa Cruz benefits from a tropical climate. Fuelled by profits from its fields, oil and gas deposits, Santa Cruz is one of Bolivia's richest towns and the most important business centre in the country. But it’s also a city where the divide between the rich and those living in poverty is particularly stark.

Since 1994, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Santa Cruz.

11 times
More people live in Santa Cruz than 50 years ago

Rapid growth of the city

Bolivia is going through a process of urbanization- thousands of people leave the countryside for the cities, like Santa Cruz, where there are better job opportunities. As a result, the city of Santa Cruz has grown exponentially since the 1970s – around 166,000 people lived here 50 years ago, for 1.9 million nowadays. But this rapid urbanization has contributed to an increase in social problems such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of infrastructure, especially among indigenous migrants. Many of the families coming here in hope of a better future only find worse living conditions, and children grow up in difficult circumstances.

Of the population share 4% of national income

Income inequality

Income inequality continues to affect the Bolivian population, a gap that is particularly noticeable in a fast-growing city such as Santa Cruz. Across the country, the bottom 20% of households have access to a share of only 4% of the national income, while 62% of this income is concentrated in the hands of the top 20% of the population. This income inequality shows that the economic growth and the exploitation of natural resources only benefit a small elite class and have not improved living conditions for many communities.

Your support makes a difference for children in Santa Cruz

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Children often do their homework together, and this way younger children learn from the older children (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Bolivia).

How your support helps in Santa Cruz

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.