Sumaj Kawsay's Community News

Thanks to the generous support of donors, we’re making great progress toward the well-being of children and their families. These are a few of the areas we focused on in the past year: 2016

Sumaj Kawsay is a community of contrasts in the heart of the Cochabamba district. Located between 3,400 and 4,420 metres above sea level, the region is known for its lakes, and is famous for the endangered Puya raimondii, a gigantic plant thought to be a living fossil. At the same time, it is also one of the poorest municipalities in all of Bolivia. Of a population of around 14, 836 people, 94.9% cannot provide for their basic needs.

Most families are indigenous Quechua, and Quechua is their first language. However Spanish is the official administrative language and is taught in schools. One in four people is bilingual, but most often they are men. Illiteracy is still high in the area, and is more prevalent in the female population (54%) than in the male (20%). The soils in the region are rich, fertile, and good for cultivation. Springs, streams, and irrigation dikes enhance the potential for agriculture in most communities. Temperatures average a cold 13℃, but can dip below zero.

World Vision began a project in this area after a group of community organizations asked for help. They had seen the impact of a similar program in a neighbouring area, and hoped that World Vision could help also help them address the poverty in their community.
  • 60 children and youth learned about their rights, how to voice their opinions, and ways to protect themselves from harm.
  • 1 child parliament is empowering young people to advocate for their rights and participate in community decisions.
  • 11 people learned how to work with local authorities and influence decisions to improve services and child well-being.
  • 40 parents and caregivers learned about the importance of education and how to support their child's learning.
  • 250 children and youth are improving their learning through tutoring and extracurricular activities like clubs and camps.
  • 1 club is in place for children and youth to improve their learning through tutoring and extracurricular activities.
  • 60 children and youth were trained in essential life skills such as critical thinking, self-esteem and communication.
  • 53 parents and caregivers learned about common childhood illnesses and how to protect their children's health.
  • 39 parents and caregivers learned about proper feeding practices and how to keep their children well nourished.
  • 60 people including children learned to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • 30 latrines in homes, schools or the community are providing improved access to sanitation for children and families.
  • 100 people including children are benefitting from latrines and have better access to sanitation.
  • 46 farmers learned techniques to improve crop and livestock production to better provide for their children and families.
  • 80 farmers received livestock, seeds or tools to improve productivity and better provide for their children and families.
  • 40 farm animals were distributed to families, providing a better means to take care of their children.

Explore Sumaj Kawsay

current conditions

To protect the privacy of children, this map shows only the general area of the community, not the exact location.

The needs in Sumaj Kawsay

Historically, this community has shown its commitment to children's education, and came together to build 17 of the 29 schools in the area. However, many of these structures are now old and dilapidated, lacking furniture, supplies, and teaching materials. Some don't have electricity, water, or sanitation facilities. Only two of the local schools provide education through the high school level.

Getting a quality education is a challenge. Pre-school programming is almost non-existent, causing children to enter primary school lacking the cognitive, motor, and social skills they need to succeed. For the many children who speak Quechua at home, transitioning to Spanish can be problematic. Teachers don't have the training or teaching aids to engage their students, and there is little support for children who experience academic challenges or have special needs. Many parents do not have the resources to purchase even the most basic supplies for their children. School attendance is also frequently disrupted by the seasonal migration of families in search of work.

On average, children in Sumaj Kawsay complete only 3.2 years of education. Unsatisfactory school performance and grade repetition in primary school are common, and the drop-out rate is high. Far fewer girls than boys attend school, and the area has been experiencing a decline in school enrolment in general.

Health Care
In a community where only 32% of families have access to piped water, most do not have latrines, or information about safe hygiene or food handling practices. As a result, children continuously experience diarrheal illnesses. This threatens the lives of young children, especially those who are already malnourished. One in four children under five is chronically malnourished.

Houses do not offer enough protection in this cold, damp region. Adobe walls, straw roofing, and earth floors are porous materials that increase the risk of respiratory infections. Mothers lack education about prenatal care, and they too are often weakened by diarrhea, respiratory infections, and prenatal diseases. The infant mortality rate is consequently very high; one baby dies for every ten live births. Babies often have low birth weights, which compromises their health from the start.

Economic Development
Most of the families rely on subsistence agriculture, either raising traditional crops of potatoes, beans, barley, oats, and wheat, or livestock, sheep, pigs, llamas, and fish. The plot size of an average farmer is small, and restricts production to the extent that families cannot break out of poverty. Most farmers have a limited understanding of modern agricultural techniques and land management. The majority work in isolation, and there is a lack of organization that would bring farmers together in their common interest. Many farms are remote, and do not have quick or easy access to markets. This necessitates that farmers sell their produce to middlemen at low prices.

With the combination of low returns from agricultural production, an absence of alternative sources of work, and worsening weather conditions like drought and hail, many families must migrate in search of work and food to survive. The area experiences high levels of seasonal and permanent migration, which destabilizes families and the community.
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Life cycle of a sponsorship community

Sumaj Kawsay,  is in Phase 2

PHASE 2: Evaluate and grow

We monitor progress and make adjustments to meet goals. More community members become involved, lead projects and gain ownership of their success.