Paraguay is a landlocked country located between Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Latin America with 7 million inhabitants, 3 million of whom live near the capital Asunción. The country's history is marked by poverty and oppression.
From the grasslands and forested hills east of the Río Paraguay to the lowlands near the river, Paraguay is home to a predominantly mestizo population with a mix of Spanish and indigenous American ancestry. In addition to the official Spanish language, about 80% of Paraguayans speak Guarani.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Paraguay since 1973.
The under-five mortality rate is a key marker for children’s rights to health care services, nutrition, water, social security and protection.
In Paraguay, the under-five mortality rate has seen a steep decline in the past decades – it stood at 29 per thousand in 2007, and 19 per thousand in 2020. But, and this is an indicator of the conditions Paraguayan children continue to face, it remains higher than the average rate in the Latin America & Caribbean region.
The births of 29% of children under 5 years old are never registered in Paraguay. This means they are denied that first step towards the protection of their individual rights. A birth certificate is a legal proof of identity that can help protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation. Without it, children are unable to prove their age, which puts them at a much higher risk of being forced into early marriage or the labour market, or recruited into armed forces. They are left uncounted and invisible.
Paraguay has achieved progress in terms of access to drinking water – but 36% of the population still uses basic drinking water services. That means that they can only drink from piped water, boreholes or tube wells, protected dug wells or springs, or bottled water.
When water is not available on premises and has to be collected, women and girls are almost two and a half times more likely than men and boys to be the main water carriers for their families.