Bolivia’s rich biodiversity generates a range of traditional, healthy foods. Yet Bolivian diets are shifting towards highly processed products. Despite a national increase in food consumption, the prevalence of anaemia remains high - 73 percent in rural areas and 53 percent in cities.
In Bolivia, SD4ALL has identified three pathways to more sustainable, healthy diets: improving public policy for urban food security; supporting the production and consumption of Andean grains; and providing positive food choices for consumers. Prioritising Andean grains promotes biodiversity, nutrition and capacity building for small-scale farmers in Bolivia's Andean region.
We help low-income consumers who work in the food sector to have a powerful voice, highlighting the need for accessible, local and nutritious food. All of our work takes a bottom-up approach based on multi-stakeholder platforms.
Bolivia Food Change Lab
Bolivia's food system faces an array of challenges, including the pressures of globalisation, a shift away from indigenous crops, rising imports, poor infrastructure and growing consumption of fast food.
High rates of urbanisation have contributed to a shift away from traditional foods and towards highly processed food.
Traditional food crops, including corn, potatoes, beans, chilies and quinoa, have been increasingly marginalised by imported foods. Many traditional and highly nutritious foods are stigmatised as 'poor people's food' and neglected. During the last fifteen years, fast food consumption in Bolivia has increased by 200%.
The Sustainable Diets for All programme is working to support the improvement of Bolivia's food systems, to reduce widespread food insecurity and to promote local sustainable production of high-quality foods that preserve Bolivia's rich biodiversity.
The change lab
In 2018 we established a food change lab in the city of La Paz with the aim of bringing together urban women from varied backgrounds to discuss the main problems and opportunities they face in relation to food accessibility, affordability and health.
Women play a vital role in food systems, from producing crops to buying food and feeding their families. Bolivia's food system affects women directly: they have the highest rates of malnutrition and the highest obesity rates of any group.
We brought together 70 women, ranging from food producers, to consumers, chefs, academics and government officials. We started by organising workshops for women from low income neighbourhoods, asking them about their worries and hopes. These women helped to take forward the voices and concerns of their neighbours throughout the process.
The lab flagged two key issues: the health consequences of poor nutrition and the traditional gender stereotyping which gives women responsibility for the home and childcare, regardless of whether they are in employment, leaving limited time for them to buy and prepare nutritious food.
Prototypes for change
The change lab model encourages participants to generate prototypes - small-scale interventions to test potential solutions to problems. Participants decided to focus an issue which was often raised during discussions: the persistence of traditional gender roles which assign women prime responsibility for looking after the home as well as feeding their families, irrespective of whether they are working in one or even two jobs.
The women's ideas will be taken forward during 2019 and the aim is to share their experiences and ideas with decision makers.