The Bolivian Vice Ministry of Civil Defence (SINAGER) has reported that, as of Friday 14 February 2014 the rainy season in Bolivia had affected 58 691 families in 143 municipalities and damaged 42 904 hectares of arable land and 1 861 houses, while 56 people had died and 11 were still missing.
Amongst the dead were at least four people killed when a mudslide engulfed part of the hillside Quechua-speaking village of Chullpa Khasa in Cochabamba state on night of Saturday 5 February, burying the homes of 15 families.
Bolivia’s Senate leader Eugenio Rojas issued an appeal for international aid at a press conference on Friday, saying “the government has decided to ask friendly nations and international organizations for help in healthcare, food, tents, to get people out.”
Rojas said that President Evo Morales had met with ambassadors and the representatives of aid organizations to help co-ordinate relief efforts. Argentina, which has also experienced flooding recently, was one of the first nations to respond to the call, pledging, among other things, to send a team of rescue workers.
“The rescue workers are beginning to be organized to come to Bolivia,” Argentinian Ambassador Ariel Basteirohe was reported to have said, adding that Argentine Air Force planes would soon land in Bolivia with aid.
The 2013/2014 floods have been said by some to be the worst flooding in living memory.
Crops needed by indigenous communities to sustain their families, such as yucca, corn and beans, have been destroyed and access roads swept away. In addition, there is concern about the potential for outbreak of dengue fever owing to large pools of standing water.
Following the call for assistance, 273 tons of humanitarian aid has been distributed by the authorities. Relief flights to provide food, medicines and other supplies are being organised to the departments of Pando, Santa Cruz, La Paz and Beni.