The National Hidro-Meteorological Service in Bolivia (SENAMHI) have issued an orange alert for intense rain expected in La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Beni Departments over the next few days. Flooding has already been reported in remote areas of Cochabamba department.
Magdalena, a town in Iténez Province, Beni Department, recorded 50.2 mm of rain in 24 hours between 02 to 03 February. Santa Rosa de Yacuma, also in Beni Department, saw 50.6 mm during the same period.
Some areas of the department have already seen heavy rain and overflowing rivers. On 02 January, 2016 , Cochabamba Assembly member, Abel Yaira, said that 4 Yuquis communities are isolated due to overflowing rivers.
Levels of the Ichilo, Chapare and Chimoré Rivers have risen as a consequence of the intense rainfall over the previous days. The four communities affected are Bía Recuaté, Pachinú, Soltera and Tres Islas in the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (Tipnis).
Yaira said that more than 240 families are affected by the interruption to communication routes caused by local flooding and have requested assistance with with evacuations, and delivery of food and supplies.
On 04 February SENAMHI warned of increasing river levels in the upper part of the Mamoré River in Cochabamba department, declaring an orange alert for areas in the municipalities of Villa Tunari, Puerto Villaroel, Chimoré and Yapacani.
The Governor of the Cochabamba Department, Iván Canelas, said in a press conference on the 04 February 2016 that the Department Legislature will soon declare an official state of emergency due to the effects of the El Niño.
More than 18,500 families in 16 municipalities of Cochabamba have been affected by the adverse events of drought, frost, hailstorms and some minor flooding related to El Niño. According to Canelas 8,699 hectares of crops has been lost.
Parts of La Paz Department have already seen flooding over the last few weeks. Flooding was reported in the municipality of Guanay in December 2015, and January 2016.
The area is known to be exposed to flood risk. Guanay is located at the confluence of the Mapiri and Tipuani Rivers and some houses are located in flood-prone areas. Furthermore, mining activity has increased rapidly in the area, which has had a negative impact on natural stream flows.
El Niño in Bolivia – Droughts, Frost, Hail and Floods
While usually the summer season is the wettest in Bolivia, until the recent heavy rainfall warning, the most significant effects of El Niño in Bolivia have been droughts, frost and localised hailstorms, especially in the Altiplano region.
According to the Bolivian department for civil defence – Viceministerio de Defensa Civil (VIDECI) – since November 2015, more than 27,600 families in 81 municipalities have been affected by El Niño, mainly through droughts and cold weather. The Departments of Potosí (2,779 families), Oruro (3,542), Chuquisaca (6,209), parts of La Paz (2,121) and Cochabamba are the worst affected.