Thanks to high commodity prices and a prudent macroeconomic policy, economic growth in Bolivia averaged 4.9 percent between 2004 and 2014. The favorable economic context led to a reduction in moderate poverty, from 59 percent in 2005 to 39 percent in 2014, while the Gini Index fell from 0.60 to 0.47 in the same period.

Due to a more challenging international context, GDP growth decreased from a high of 6.8 percent in 2013 to 4.8 percent in 2015. The effect of low commodity prices on domestic demand was also contained by expansive policies that took advantage of the important economic cushions accumulated during the boom. International reserves have decreased by US $3.57 billion since late 2014, but they remain high at nearly US$ 11.5 billion, whereas fiscal savings are approximately 20 percent of GDP and public debt is less than 40 percent of GDP.

In an effort to maintain strong growth, assure continued poverty reduction and improve access to basic services, the Government of Bolivia approved the 2016-2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan in early 2016. With this plan, the government aims to maintain growth at an average rate of 5 percent between 2016 and 2020, reducing extreme poverty from 17 percent to 10 percent. To this end, the plan includes an extensive public investment program funded in part by savings accumulated during the economic boom, Bolivian Central Bank (CB) loans and external financing. Investment areas include infrastructure, hydrocarbon exploration, industrialization of natural gas (fertilizers and plastics) and hydroelectric energy generation. The plan also calls for increased private sector activity and foreign direct investment.

In light of the global context, the government’s ambitious development agenda faces structural challenges. Despite the important cushions accumulated during the economic boom, prudent management is needed to maintain macroeconomic stability. Public spending efficiency must be improved to ensure that it generates new private investments and increases the coverage and quality of public services. It is also critical to guarantee that the plan’s large-scale investment projects provide sufficient returns to cement long-term growth with macroeconomic stability.

Additionally, consolidating the country’s position as an exporter of natural gas in the region requires joining forces with the private sector to expand proven gas reserves. It is also important to promote investments in sectors that traditionally have been less attractive for private investors, such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2016

The World Bank Group (WBG) program in Bolivia is guided by the 2016-2020 Country Partnership Strategy (CPS). The current portfolio of World Bank financing operations focuses mainly on transportation (44 percent), rural and agricultural development (25 percent) and strengthening statistical capacity (10 percent). Other Bank-supported areas include energy, urban development, climate change, employment and social protection.

The current World Bank portfolio includes 10 active projects totaling US$ 766 million. Also under the CPS, seven new operations are being prepared for US$ 915 million in the areas of transportation, agriculture and risk, water and sanitation, energy and urban and rural development.

The CPS has two main pillars:

  • Promote broad and inclusive growth; and
  • Support fiscal and environmental sustainability and resilience to climate change and economic shocks.

Within these two pillars, the CPS has five objectives:

  • Reduce transportation costs and increase connectivity of isolated, vulnerable communities in selected areas to the road network;
  • Increase access to certain quality basic services in low-income urban and rural communities;
  • Improve opportunities for income-generation, market access and sustainable productivity gains;
  • Strengthen the capacity for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, reducing vulnerability to natural disasters; and
  • Strengthen institutional capacity for improving public resource management and the investment climate.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the WBG agency that supports private sector development, is focusing on investments in the financial, agribusiness and services sectors. These investments seek to promote the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and foreign trade and to protect natural resources through the implementation of good global practices in environmental sustainability.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2016

Sustainable Rural Development

With a new productive development focus, the Rural Partnerships Project (PAR) supported 770 producers’ organizations in 110 rural municipalities, benefitting 29,000 rural, largely indigenous families, who raised their income by 33 percent. Producers increased their main labor income by 63 percent and net income from productive activity in general by 42 percent.

Between 2011 and 2015, 150,000 people from 35,000 households benefitted from 800 sub-projects in 642 of the poorest rural communities in Bolivia. The sub-projects of the Community Investment in Rural Areas Project (PICAR) include irrigation canals, water uptake systems, greenhouses, latrines, livestock fences and wells.

The Project for Agricultural Innovation and Services (PISA) was launched in 2011 to strengthen the National Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Innovation (INIAF) as a cornerstone of Bolivia’s innovation system. Today, this project leads a network of 130 research and extension organizations around the country.

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management

With US$ 200 million in financing, the World Bank supported the implementation of a disaster risk management policy. The recently completed project sought to strengthen Bolivia’s legal and institutional framework.

The Climate Resilience Pilot Program (PPCR) contributed to the development of the National Climate Resilience Strategy. To support this tool, the World Bank is implementing the Climate Resilience Project – Integrated Watershed Management, which works to build institutional capacity to define the new approach of integrated watershed management for climate change adaptation.

Human Development and Access to Basic Services

The Early Childhood Development and Assistance Project (ADEPI) implemented a quality management model developed in a participatory manner in 50 percent of the 150 childcare centers in La Paz and El Alto. Between 2013 and 2016, 4,315 children up to age four benefitted from the educational materials. Some 500 mothers participated in workshops to develop productive and entrepreneurial skills as well as in workshops on sexual and reproductive health.

Real Neighborhoods and Communities is a key program of the La Paz municipal government. The World Bank, through the Urban Infrastructure Project, supported improved public lighting, drainage infrastructure, sanitation facilities, disaster risk mitigation works and public recreational facilities in 46 low-income La Paz neighborhoods. Eight thousand, one hundred families living in peri-urban areas benefitted from the program’s comprehensive intervention.

The World Bank has been supporting electrification programs in Bolivia since 2003 with operations such as the Decentralized Infrastructure Project for the Transformation of Rural Areas (IDTR I), which brought electricity to nearly 30,300 households (connected to the electric power grid and household solar panels), 110 schools and 14 health centers between 2006 and 2011. The Decentralized Electricity Project for Universal Access (GPOBA) provided electricity for nearly 7,600 households, 136 schools and 5,700 pico lamps with household solar panel systems during 2010-2012, benefitting 222,800 people. The IDTR II Project will help increase electric power coverage, benefitting approximately 14,600 households with the expansion of networks, 12,600 households with individual solar PV systems and 138 public buildings (schools and health posts) with solar PV systems.

In the area of employment, the Project to Improve the Employability and Labor Income of Young People, which will be implemented during the second half of 2016, seeks to promote employability and increase the labor income of 15,000 low-income youth by supporting the expansion of skills-development programs.

Support to Public Sector Efficiency

The Project to Strengthen Statistics Capacity and the Information Base for Evidence-based Planning (STATCAP) supported the implementation of two recent national censuses – one on population and housing and the other on agriculture – in addition to improving continuous household surveys and updating multipurpose maps. The project also financed the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey and the 2015-2016 Household Budget Survey. Additionally, it will support the implementation of the 2017 Economic Census. To complement these activities, the World Bank has financed actions to improve poverty measurement and define multidimensional indicators for the Living Well Index. 


With US$ 230 million in financing, the Project for the Highway of the Santa Cruz Connection Corridor (the 208-kilometer San Ignacio-San José section) has the objective of increasing connectivity. To this end, it will finish construction on a highway of the basic road network to link eastern Bolivia with western Brazil and complete the tourist circuit of Chiquitanía. The second component of the loan is allocated for the study of the 300-kilometer San Ignacio – San Matías section (on the Brazilian border), which will link the Pacific ports with Matto Grosso through national territory.

The National Highways and Airport Infrastructure Project supports regional and international integration through the construction of the 114-kilometer San Buenaventura – Ixiamas road and the Rurrenabaque Airport. The road, which is currently under construction and which is financed by a US$ 137 million loan, will contribute to linking the departments of La Paz and Pando with the Brazilian border to the north, improving access of local populations to national economic development. The airport, which is funded by a US$ 6 million loan, is currently in the public bid phase. The airport will facilitate the flow of tourism, which has increased in Rurrenabaque and the surrounding region.

The rehabilitation of the 546-kilometer Santa Cruz – Trinidad road, which has US$ 225 million in financing and will soon begin the bidding process, will benefit some three million residents of both departments and 500,000 users from other regions, most of them farmers who need to transport their produce to other markets and access technology to improve their production.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2016


Bolivia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments