ACT Alliance Alert: Assistance to survivors of long lasting floods, Bolivia

by Elisabeth Gouel | | ACT Alliance - Switzerland
Monday, 17 March 2014 14:36 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.



Assistance to survivors of long lasting floods

Geneva, 17 March 2014

1.    Brief description of the emergency and impact

Bolivia faced from January to March 2014 the worst flooding in 60 years of its history. Precipitations surpassed 1000 cc/mts2 causing overflows that exceeded all marks of levels from previous years. According to the National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology of Bolivia (SENAMHI), rains are expected to continue until late March and early April 2014. On 26 January 2014 the Government issued the Declaration of National Emergency (DS 1878), recognizing Beni, Cochabamba and Northern La Paz as the most affected departments due to the overflowing of the main rivers.

The losses registered by various reliable sources such as the Humanitarian Network of Bolivia, the Vice Ministry of Civil Defense and members of ACT in the country, confirmed the following figures: 57 persons dead, 213 hurt, 60,000 families affected, 2000 houses destroyed and 146 municipalities affected from a total of 339 (about 40% of municipalities). More than 2,609 families (over 13,000 people) were evacuated to 59 emergency shelters. An estimated of 10,000 families (50,000 people) affected are small farmers.

2.    Why is an ACT response needed?

The crisis has kept hundreds of communities in 6 departments of the Northwest and Northeast of Bolivia and fields over flooded during many days, resulting in a devastating situation for thousands of families who lost all their livelihoods and their household goods; roofing also caused serious impact on the infrastructure of roads, bridges, school buildings, and undermined agriculture and livestock activities with significant losses for families.

An ACT response is justified by the massive and extensive impact of the damage where the effects of months of flooding are expected to be more severe for the lives of the people than those in the days of crisis. Several reports in the media highlighted that capacity of the local structures to respond where over passed and that the aid received was not sufficient. People expects that a complementary support from the civil society could help to alleviate suffering caused by the lack of basic food staples, food aid and food security, safe water, preventative medicines and other nonfood items.

3.    National and international response

Central and local national authorities are working hard to address the areas affected by shifting food, provisions and medicines to the survivors of this region. In the early days there were rescue operations by helicopter transport which intensified support to areas isolated by the floods. Civil Defense also received cooperation from other countries like Argentina with their White Helmets Teams carrying a ton of medicines and water purifiers to assist in emergency work and Japan that sent a batch of 240 tents and US$ 75,000 to support the "psycho-emotional" recovery of children and adolescents. The United Nations sent 2000 tents for the survivors, the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and the Inter-American Development Bank contributed with US$ 300,000.

4.    ACT Alliance response

Bolivia ACT Forum members have been receiving and collecting information from affected communities. Christian Aid has provided water treatment plants and means to massive distribution of water treatment tablets and PDA has provided technical accompaniment to the forum by sending a Rapid Support Team person.  The forum has made an assessment of the situation identifying its capacities to respond in place.

5.    Planned activities

An ACT appeal is envisaged focusing on municipalities of Rurrenabaque and Yucumo (151 families) in the Department of Beni, and the municipalities of Puerto Villarroel, Entre Ríos and Tapacari (300 families) in the Department of Cochabamba.

The components of the humanitarian actions will be centered in water, sanitation and hygiene promotion; community based psychosocial service; early recovery and rehabilitation; and food aid, food security and NFI. The appeal will eventually be budgeted close to US$ 300,000.

6.    Constraints

There is information from the media that some humanitarian actors faced restrictions to access to affected communities, mainly in the department of Beni.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (