Heavy Rains and Flooding in Bolivia

The past month has seen heavy rains and flooding in Bolivia that have killed at least 29 and affected more than 45,000 families. The most affected region has been the department of Beni in northeastern Bolivia.

View from the Mano a Mano plane of some of the affected communities.

View from the Mano a Mano plane of some of the affected communities.

Note from Mano a Mano Pilot

Beni is where the majority of Mano a Mano’s aviation program is focused, and the rains have had a heavy impact. We received the following note from Mano a Mano pilot Ivo Daniel Martinez Velasquez yesterday morning:

Good morning. Attached are photos I am sharing with you all of the floods in Beni.

Mano a Mano plane landing on a flooded runway.

Mano a Mano plane landing on a flooded runway.

I am sharing the worries that we have. It has now been 10 days that we have been trying to fly, but it is not possible because of the rains and bad weather.

We had a flight to San Borja that we had to cancel mid-flight because it started to rain and the runway was out of operation. We have patients that need to return to and be brought from Oromomo, but for the last 10 days it has not stopped raining and the weather is very bad over there so we cannot get there.

There is great desperation. We are in contact with the communities and we know that they have lost (underwater) their small agricultural plots for household consumption and that they do not have anything to eat. The community of Ushbe is at the point of disappearing; even the communities at the highest elevations have water in their homes.

Flooding has heavily affected livestock, with thousands drowning or starving.

Flooding has heavily affected livestock, with thousands drowning or starving.

Flooding has heavily affected livestock, with thousands drowning or starving.

Flooding has heavily affected livestock, with thousands drowning or starving.

We are collecting – through the churches, friends and other institutions –  food and household goods to take to the communities. We trust that we will collect lots of cargo, and we have quite a bit in the hanger, though the collection was recently started.

Even though we can’t get in in this moment, as soon as the weather gets better we can get onto 3 landing strips, from which we want to distribute goods to all of the communities, seeing as we have coordinated with the church of Oromomo and San Lorenzo to distribute goods and volunteers.

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Flooding in the department of Beni.

People are saying this is the first time in history this has happened, that they have never seen flooding of this magnitude.

- Ivo Daniel Martinez Velasquez

Flooding in Beni.

Flooding in Beni.

Mano a Mano Flying Food and Clothing to Beni

Mano a Mano Apoyo Aereo is using its emergency flight funds to fly the food and clothing that are being collected at our hangar in Cochabamba into central Beni areas where the airstrips are operable. The situation is expected to worsen as more water crosses into the Beni from the Andean areas that are receiving heavy rains like never before.

Mano a Mano and volunteers from SAR collecting food and supplies at the Mano a Mano hangar.

Mano a Mano and volunteers from SAR collecting food and supplies at the Mano a Mano hangar.

Food and supplies that have been collected at the Mano a Mano hangar.

Food and supplies that have been collected at the Mano a Mano hangar.

Mano a Mano staff in Bolivia have shared with us how horrible this situation is and, they believe, the worst is still coming. Community volunteer Nemecio, who is a resident of the Beni area, has indicated that they have not seen this degree of flooding in the last 30 years.

How You Can Help Mano a Mano Respond to this Emergency

The flooding has been devastating to large portions of Bolivia; the floods have killed any crops or plantings residents might have had, and once the floods recede, farmers will have to start over with crop plantings and they might have to wait six to nine months before new crops can mature (and after March there will be little to no rain to water these new crops). Many livestock have died, thousands of families have been displaced, and some communities are being completely buried under water or mudslides (at least 4 people died in a mudslide in Chullpa K’asa last night).

A mudslide in Chullpa K'asa killed at least 4 last night. Photo credit: Los Tiempos website, captioned Una casa tapada por el alud en la comunidad de Chullpa K´asa, Morochata. - Gobernación Cochabamba Periodista Invitado

A mudslide in Chullpa K’asa killed at least 4 last night. Photo credit: Los Tiempos website, captioned “Una casa tapada por el alud en la comunidad de Chullpa K´asa, Morochata. – Gobernación Cochabamba Periodista Invitado”

These heavy rains and flooding have impacted Mano a Mano’s day-to-day activities but have also added an additional financial stress as we try to do what we can to help those that have been affected.

DONATE

If you’d like to help Mano a Mano respond to this emergency you can MAKE A DONATION HERE (please note ‘emergency’ or ‘aviation’ if you’d like your donation to directly support our emergency response).

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