Bolivia – Record Rains Cause Flooding in Tarija Department

Record rainfall in southern Bolivia has prompted local authorities to declare a state of emergency for parts of Gran Chaco province in Tarija Department.

Areas around the towns and cities of Yacuiba, Camiri and Villamontes in Gran Chaco province, Tarija Department, have all seen flooding after days of heavy rain.

Record rainfall hit the city of Yacuiba on Sunday 28 January, 2018. Roads were flooded and 15 communities were left isolated. At least 3 houses were destroyed, although full damage assessments are yet to be completed.

Heavy rain has been falling in the areas since last week. Yacuiba recorded 98.2 mm of rain in 24 hours to 26 January. Then record rainfall hit 2 days later when the city saw 194.2 mm of rain in 24 hours to 28 January, beating the previous high of 178 mm set in 1985. The rain continued with a further 48.2 mm falling in 24 hours to 31 January.

In Villamontes, 177.1 mm of rain fell in 24 hours to 29 January.

Local authorities have declared a state of emergency and the mayor of Yacuiba, Ramiro Vallejos Villalba, visited affected communities in the municipality on 28 January.

Flood damaged roads in Yacuiba, Bolivia, January 2018 Photo: Government of Yacuiba
Flood damaged roads in Yacuiba, Bolivia, January 2018 Photo: Government of Yacuiba

50,000 Affected by Severe Weather

Bolivia’s Deputy Minister of Civil Defence, Carlos Eduardo Brú, reported on Wednesday 31 January 2018 that there are approximately 50,000 people (12,000 families) in seven departments of the country are currently affected by severe weather across the country.

“We have approximately 50,000 inhabitants affected by different types of weather events, rains, floods, overflows, hail, electrical storms, landslides, among others,” he told reporters, according to Agencia Boliviana de Información (ABI), the government press agency.

Severe weather also damaged 12,045 hectares of crops and damaged 102 homes. “These figures show us that we are entering a state of alert and there is still more rain and that is what worries us” the Deputy Minister said.

Beni, Cochabamba and Tarija departments are among the worst affected by rain and flooding.

In Beni Department, the municipalities of Rurrenabaque, San Borja, San Ignacio, San Andrés, Santa Ana de Yacuma, Loreto, Trinidad, Reyes and Santa Rosa have been affected by flooding and heavy rain since mid January. Schools have been closed in affected area.

Cochabamba Department has also seen heavy rain this month. Around 5,312 families and more than 10,000 hectares of agricultural crops in the municipalities of Chimoré (1,068 families) and Puerto Villarroel (3,514 families) have been affected. The municipality of Villa Tunari is also affected although damage assessments there are yet to be carried out.