Bolivia – Floods Affect Thousands in La Paz, Beni and Santa Cruz Departments

Over 5,500 families have been affected by flooding across La Paz, Beni and Santa Cruz Departments in Bolivia over the last few days. Two fatalities were reported, and dozens of homes and wide areas of crops have been damaged or destroyed.

Floods in Guanay, La Paz Department, Bolivia, February 2023. Photo: Ministerio de Defensa Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia

La Paz Department

Flooding affected Guanay, Mapiri, and Tipuani Municipalities in Larecaja Province in La Paz Department in early February 2023 following heavy rain and the overflow of the Tipuani and Mapiri rivers.

The government reported over 1,375 families affected across La Paz Department, including 400 families in Guanay, where one fatality was reported. Local officials in Guanay said gold mining activities in the area have blocked many of the rivers and tributaries, exacerbating the floods.

At least 20 homes were damaged or destroyed in Mapiri. Camps were set up to accommodate families who lost their homes.

Flooding also affected Yanacachi municipality in Sud Yungas Province of La Paz Department, where a second fatality was reported. The mayor of Yanacachi Víctor Fernández said several communities were left isolated and children unable to attend school after 3 bridges collapsed. The mayor said the municipality is running out of resources to help flood victims and asked for assistance from the national and departmental authorities. He said that there are more than 770 affected families. As many as 30 homes are thought to have been destroyed.

Floods in Guanay, La Paz Department, Bolivia, February 2023. Photo: Ministerio de Defensa Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia

Santa Cruz Department

Floods have also affected several municipalities in the Santa Cruz Department. Local media reported over 30,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed, including soybeans, rice and sugar cane.

On 07 February, Bolivia President Luis Arce made an overflight of flooded areas of San Julián, Puerto Pailas, Cuatro Cañadas and Pailón municipalities. Aid and relief supplies have been distributed to 600 affected families in San Julián. Around 500 families were also affected by floods in Okinawa municipality.

Just a few weeks prior, communities in the region were facing persistent drought. During his visit, the president attributed the sudden changes in weather conditions to the climate crisis.

“This is a consequence of the climate crisis…which has to do with the developed countries that irresponsibly damage the environment worldwide,” he said.

However, to this, he said that it is not the time to complain or cry, but to work to solve the problems that need immediate solutions.

Beni Department

The Bolivian government also said that aid will be delivered to 534 families in the municipality of San Ignacio de Moxos in Beni Department which has been affected by flooding and heavy rains since the start of February.

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