Bolivia – Thousands Affected by Floods in La Paz Department – Impacts of El Niño Seen in 8 Departments

Around 25 families have been left homeless after rivers overflowed, destroying their homes in Guanay, Larecaja province, about 140 km north of the capital La Paz, Bolivia. A further 600 families have been affected across areas of La Paz Department.

Levels of three rivers in Guanay – the Challana, Tipuani and Mapiri – have increased after a period of heavy rain from 07 January 2016. It is thought that the current flooding has been caused by the overflowing Mapiri.

The government of La Paz Department said on 18 January 2016 that they have received a formal request from the municipality of Guanay for help with emergency housing as a result of the flooding.

The Ministry of Civil Defense say they are delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Guanay. The La Paz Department government confirmed that it will carry out damage assessments and provide the necessary assistance.

The Mapiri river had previously caused flooding in late December 2015, affecting three communities in the municipality of Mapiri, also in Larecaja province. Around 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in the communities of Santa Rosa de Mapiri, Achiquiri and Chimate.

La Paz Department officials said last week that northern areas of the department are expecting over 50% more rainfall than normal as a result of El Niño. Heavy rainfall has also affected provinces of Abel Iturralde, Franz Tamayo, Caranavi and Sud Yungas.

El Niño

Deputy Minister of Civil Defense, Oscar Cabrera, reported yesterday that since November 2015, the effects of El Niño, including drought, hail, floods and thunderstorms, have affected 78 municipalities in 8 of the country’s 10 departments. Only Pando and Beni have remained unaffected.

The Deputy Minister said that 14 people have died and over 20,000 families have been affected. The deaths occurred in the departments of Chuquisaca, Potosi, Oruro and Tarija, most of them as a result of either flooding or lightning strikes.