As you may be aware, the past few weeks have seen heavy rains and severe flooding in Bolivia that has affected more than 53,000 families and killed over 40 people, and it is likely that the flooding will continue for the foreseeable future.
(You can more see pictures of the flooding here.)
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 until the next rainy season begins at the end of the year). Many livestock have died, thousands of families have been displaced, and some communities are being completely buried under water or mudslides (a mudslide killed at least 14 people in Chullpa K’asa, a community in the municipality of Morochata, department of Cochabamba, where Mano a Mano built our first rural clinic).
How Mano a Mano is Responding to the Flooding in Bolivia
Yesterday Mano a Mano staff from all 5 of our counterpart organizations met via conference call to discuss what we could do.
Each of our Bolivian counterparts has been collecting food, medicine, clothing, and other supplies donated from friends, families, their churches, and anywhere else they can ask. Mano a Mano Apoyo Aereo and Mano a Mano Internacional are preparing for their distribution.
This morning we made 2 flights with collected items, including bags of bread and easily consumable food items to Oromomo in the department of Beni (our plan to land in San Luis didn’t work, as the landing strip only had 100 meters of usable runway and was not in suitable condition today for landing). People are not able to cook; we have been told that many of these people are living on rooftops or on tree tops to stay alive, and there have been reportings of people drowning in the area.
Mano a Mano Bolivia is planning on hiring a couple of doctors to set up a temporary health clinic near the runway of San Luis (this region is where we fly into for about 70% of the emergency flights and most of our weekend health clinics; it is not usable right now but should be accessible in the near future). They will be able to serve many of the surrounding communities from this runway. Mano a Mano Apoyo Aereo will be providing the transport for these doctors and other volunteers.
Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo will be loaning a boat motor so the food can be distributed by canoe to the different villages; village leaders will also be encouraged to come to the distribution point to pick up the packages – some have canoes.
Mano a Mano International Partners (US office) is responding with some funds to help support this work. Even though in Bolivia we are asking for donations of food and other supplies, we will need to purchase much of the food, especially the easily consumable items. Also, we will need to purchase medicines and medical supplies that we do not have on hand, as well as fuel for the canoes and to cover the additional flights for our airplanes and food for all of our volunteers who are committed to helping during this natural disaster.
ISOLATION OF RURAL COMMUNITIES
Mano a Mano focuses on working with isolated rural communities 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 not the resources or infrastructure for the government or other organizations to reach many of the smallest communities.
This is why it is 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.
LACK OF FUNDING FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
We are NOT an emergency response organization – we typically focus on community development projects. We are always on an extremely tight budget and do not have unrestricted funds available for this type of emergency response. But we do have the skilled Bolivian staff, aviation program, and commitment to work directly with these communities that others may lack, and we feel strongly that we need to do what we can during the most difficult times.
How You Can Help
Our biggest limitation is always funding; your donation during this emergency will help Mano a Mano respond to the most isolated and hardest-hit communities – distributing emergency food and supplies and providing emergency health care. Your support also adds much-needed funds that allow Mano a Mano to provide emergency response now while not taking away from our normal community development projects, which will be in even greater demand as the impact of this flooding continues to be felt months and years from now.
In addition, flooding may have damaged current Mano a Mano projects throughout the country, which might require an extensive process of repairs (we are assessing damage to our projects now).
One of the worst incidents so far during the flooding has been in Chullpa K’asa – the location of Mano a Mano’s first rural clinic, where a mudslide killed at least 14 people earlier this week. This mudslide occurred on the opposite side of the ravine from our health and education projects, but the damage is an extreme example of what is happening in rural areas throughout Bolivia.
MAKE A DONATION
Another easy way you can help is to SHARE this page (on average each share generates an additional $18 in donations); there are share tools below.
Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to know more about any of these efforts, or if you are interested in other ways you can help. Everything that we are able to do is only made possible thanks to YOUR SUPPORT, Mano a Mano’s donors and volunteers in the US, Bolivia, and elsewhere.