GENEVA (February 15, 2008) – Severe floods have driven thousands of people from their homes in Bolivia, and killed at least 51 people nationwide since November. It is the third year in a row that the country has been hit by heavy rains, but the flooding this year is far worse than last, causing widespread damage in all of the country’s nine departments. Flooding and landslides have blocked many of the main roads, cutting off communities. The La Nina weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean is being blamed for the rains, which are expected to continue through March.
CARE is responding to communities’ needs in the department of Chuquisaca, one which has suffered major damage.
“We are distributing blankets and cooking utensils to several thousand people in hard to reach rural areas,” said Becky Myton, CARE’s Emergency Coordinator in Bolivia. “We are working to repair roads so that people can reach basic services and are helping families to regain their means of earning a living by providing seeds, agricultural tools and fencing.”
With the promise of more rains to come, the emergency is far from over.
“Humanitarian needs will only grow over the next several months,” said Myton. “Water and irrigation systems will need to be repaired and agricultural tools and seeds replaced in order for communities to recover from this emergency.”
During the past week, the number of persons affected by the flooding has risen dramatically, from 133,880 to 213,750. CARE conducted its own assessment of the situation and the needs in Chuquisaca, where the organization is already running long-term development programs. Staff report that nearly 25,000 people have been affected by the floods. Eleven people have died and more than 200 homes have been destroyed. The rains have flooded approximately 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of agricultural land, ruining crops and livelihoods.
As the rivers rise and flooding increases in the lower watershed, the Departments of Beni and Pando could suffer grave damage. In Beni alone, 50 percent more people have been affected than during 2007. The Amazon region is predicted to become affected in three to four weeks, and motor boats will be needed to transport basic supplies.
About CARE: CARE has been working continuously in Bolivia for more than 30 years beginning with its response to a flooding emergency in Beni in 1956. CARE has 60 years of experience delivering emergency aid. With ongoing poverty-fighting projects in more than 60 countries, CARE can respond quickly anywhere in the world. Our emergency responses focus on the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly women and children. CARE’s portfolio in Bolivia includes projects and programs in food security, water and sanitation, disaster and risk management, natural resource management, education, health and income generation.«All Press Releases