Bolivia – Floods Affect Thousands in Beni and Santa Cruz

Flooding has affected thousands of people in the departments of Beni and Santa Cruz in Bolivia since late January 2021. Disaster authorities report that over 35,000 families have now been affected by heavy rain and flooding across the country since the start of the year.

Floods in Yapacani, Bolivia, January 2021. Photo: Gobierno Autónomo Municipal de Yapacani

In a statement of 05 February 2021, Vice Minister of Civil Defence, Juan Carlos Calvimonte, said 9 people had died and 35,316 families affected across 7 departments as a result of flooding and severe weather since the start of the year. In addition, rains and flooding damaged 28,491 hectares of crops and 1,478 houses.

Severe flooding struck the city of Sucre in Chuquisaca Department on 04 January. Media reported at least 3 fatalities. Days later flooding affected thousands of families in Cochabamba on 14 January. One fatality was reported in Tiquipaya.

On 18 January heavy rain caused the Mapiri and Tipuani rivers to break their banks, flooding areas Larecaja province in northern La Paz Department. On 20 January Civil Defence said 15,000 families were affected across the municipalities of Guanay, Mapiri and Teoponte. Three fatalities were reported.

In late January around 5,000 families were affected across 13 municipalities in northern areas of Santa Cruz Department, in particular in the municipalities of Yapacaní and Santa Fe, which both declared a state of emergency.

Since then flooding has also affected areas of the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) in Beni Department. Authorities have distributed relief supplies to residents in affected areas, chiefly Gundonovia, San Bernardo and San Pablo del Isiboro. Bolivia’s Ministry of Defence said at least 800 families are affected.

As of 12 February, the National Meteorology and Hydrology Service of Bolivia (SENAMHI Bolivia) issued red alerts for Mamoré River in Beni and areas of Upper Mamoré River Basin in Cochabamba Department.

Floods in Yapacani, Bolivia, January 2021. Photo: Gobierno Autónomo Municipal de Yapacani