Our Response to Flooding in Bolivia

In the first 2-3 months of 2014, there was very heavy flooding in the Beni region of Bolivia, where the majority of our aviation program takes place: Bolivia’s Amazonian region has experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities are under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Crops have been devastated, and more than 900,000 livestock have died, which has had and will continue to have a huge economic impact for families in the Beni.

At least 59 people died.

Flooding in the Beni.

Flooding in the Beni.

Mano a Mano focuses on working with isolated rural communities – like those in the Beni – that are often ignored, due to their small size, transportation challenges, and difficult working conditions; this is true under the best circumstances but is exponentially worse in times of emergency. There are simply no resources or infrastructure available for the government or other organizations to reach many of the smallest communities.

More than 250,000 livestock died.

More than 900,000 livestock died.

This is why it has been so important for Mano a Mano to provide whatever support it can; outside of a few local churches or dedicated volunteers, we may be the only assistance available to the communities that we work with.

Our Response to Flooding in Bolivia

Here are a few previous updates on our flood response:

Thanks to the support of many generous donors like you, Mano a Mano has been able to provide a response to the flooding. Flood response has focused on 2 primary projects:

  1. Emergency Food and Supplies Distribution
  2. Free Health Clinics for Communities in the Beni

Emergency Food and Supplies Distribution

Since our flood response began in February, Mano a Mano Aviation has provided 36 flights totaling 88.7 hours to distribute 37,620 pounds of food and supplies to 18 different communities in the Beni region.

Some of the food and supplies collected in Bolivia that were distributed in the Beni.

Some of the food and supplies collected in Bolivia that were distributed in the Beni.

Mano a Mano Pilot Ivo Daniel Martinez says that that at least 2 communities were only able to survive the first few days after flooding thanks to the supplies that Mano a Mano distributed.

In addition to the donated supplies, Mano a Mano also purchased food – including more than a ton each of sugar and rice – and manufactured 770 lbs. of peanut butter to distribute. In all, more than 50,000 pounds of supplies were collected or purchased, and almost all of the supplies have been distributed.

Much of the food and supplies were air-dropped, since there was nowhere for the plane to land. Of the 30 runways Mano a Mano planes typically use in the region, only 2 were not damaged by flooding.

After a the initial flooding went down a little, supplies could then distributed to the surrounding communities by canoe, truck, and horse.

Free Health Clinics for Communities in the Beni

Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia, building on its established program providing weekend health clinics to small communities in the Beni region, put together a more comprehensive traveling health clinic campaign in response to the flooding.

Volunteer nurse from France_Natividad

MMB volunteer nurse from France during a free exam in Natividad

These communities were hit very hard by the flooding – most of their livestock and farm plots were wiped out, and they did not have basic sanitation, medical facilities or staff, or electricity before the flooding. One community we visited has one small solar panel that powers a single radio, their only connection to the world.

Carrying supplies to get to the next community

MMB volunteers walking with their supplies to the next community – the only way to get there.

Distributing supplies in San Juan La Curva

Distributing supplies in San Juan La Curva, one of the hardest-hit communities.

Flooding impact in San Juan la Curva

San Juan la Curva after the flooding receded.

Between the end of February and end of June 2014, Mano a Mano Bolivia doctors  visited 11 communities in the Beni and saw a total of 369 people (210 families). Due to the flooding, travel was difficult; the volunteer doctors flew on the Mano a Mano plane to San Lorenzo, and then had to walk or boat to the small communities throughout the area.

MMB boat to visit communities in Beni

MMB volunteers prepping the boats to travel to the next community for free health care.

MMB loading plane

MMB volunteers and staff loading the Mano a Mano plane with supplies for their health clinics in Beni.

Natividad

Health clinic in Natividad.

Patient exam_San Luis

Dr. Alex from MMB during an exam in San Luis.

Showing kids how to brush their teeth_San Ignacito

MMB volunteers teaching kids how to brush their teeth in San Ignacito. Health talks and education are a part of any weekend health clinic or community visit that MMB does, focusing on things such as making sure drinking water is safe and basic health care tips.

How You Can Help

Our greatest obstacle to be able to do more is always funding; your donation will help Mano a Mano continue to respond to the most isolated and hardest-hit communities – distributing emergency food and supplies, providing emergency health care, and helping communities get back on their feet over the months to come.

Thanks!

This flood response has been a huge effort – thanks to all Mano a Mano staff and volunteers from each of our counterpart organizations, the Bolivian volunteers and other organizations that have pitched in, and the donors and volunteers in the US that have helped make this possible. While there is still a lot of work to do, we are very grateful to to everyone that has helped with this project so far. Thanks also to the following organizations in Bolivia that have contributed:

  • SAR Bolivia
  • Universidad Privada Boliviana
  • Universidad Católica Boliviana
  • Comunidad Evangélica Filadelfia
  • Misión Evangélica Nuevas Tribus
  • Trabajadores de Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos – Aviación
  • Empresa Chacaltaya
  • Hermanas Hijas de la Caridad – Vicentinas

With your help, and working together, we can make a difference. Thank you!

Distributing food and supplies to people in Oromomo, in the Beni region of Bolivia.

Flood Relief Photos

 



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