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  • Gustavo Driau

IELB-Bolivia COVID-19 Hunger Campaign in Tarija

Tarija is a city in southern Bolivia on the border with Argentina. Tarija has 270,000 inhabitants. COVID-19 has had a medium impact in this city; there are almost 100 deaths; in other cities, the consequences have been greater.

The greatest damage in Tarija has not been the COVID-19, but the restriction for people to go to work. Extreme poverty in Tarija is 32%, and the infant mortality rate is 37 per thousand births; these indicators show a better situation than the Bolivian average.

But some sectors are very neglected. One of these sectors is the Los Eucaliptos Urbanization, where IELB has begun diaconal and missionary work.

In this area, more than half of the families in Tarija are migrants from rural areas. A quarter is single-parent families, so all responsibility for parenting rests with a single caregiver. There are reconstituted homes, but with a strained relationship between stepparents and stepchildren

There are also causes of a social nature that admit of violence in the upbringing of children, which generates inadmissible situations of abuse. Families have a high number of children, and the condition of migration causes the loss of natural networks, the low level of education and the stress of survival leads to high consumption of alcohol.

In many homes, there are situations of injustice: intra-family violence, sexual abuse, alcoholism, divorce, abandonment, and a high number of children, among others. In the social context, there is low coverage of health and education services, violence against women, and discrimination against migrants.

COVI-19 has exacerbated all the problems. IELB has implemented a food distribution campaign to sustain food and life for the children in the neighborhood. Montana Synod supports this effort.

IELB supports missionary and diaconal activities in Los Eucaliptos area in a regular base.

This campaign does not solve structural problems but alleviates suffering when hunger becomes the biggest problem.

The photos were taken by pastor Emilio Aslla

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