Flooding in Bolivia: Oxfam will provide humanitarian aid to 20,000 affected people

“Right now we have an increasing number of people in shelters, representing a series of logistical and disaster response challenges which are stretching the capacities of local authorities”
Roger Quiroga
Oxfam International
Published: 14 February 2008

Oxfam International will provide shelter, and water and sanitation facilities to 4,000 families (around 20,000 people) in urban and rural areas, mainly indigenous communities, threatened by the flooding that is affecting the Department of Beni, in the North-eastern Bolivia. The humanitarian situation has worsened in the last few days leading the Bolivian government to declare a state of disaster in the whole region where, according to official data, there have been so far 48 deaths, 6 missing persons, and more than 41,000 families affected as a result of the flooding.

Oxfam’s aid will initially last for a period of three months with an estimated cost of USD 720,000. An Oxfam airlift with emergency supplies is expected to arrive in Bolivia next week (Thursday 21st), with shelters and water supply equipment.  A technical team is already on the ground providing assistance to local emergency authorities, monitoring the situation, coordinating with other aid agencies, and assessing the appropriate response in different municipalities.

The city of Trinidad, Beni´s capital, is under an imminent threat of flooding should the flood waters overflow the protective dyke. The dyke has already been breached to the north of the city but has been repaired and flood waters pumped out of the city.

Roger Quiroga, Oxfam International’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Beni explains the situation “Due to the type of terrain in Trinidad the drainage system collapsed, producing a situation in which almost all the neighbourhoods beyond the dike system were flooded. Sanitation and sewage treatment facilities outside the protective dikes of Trinidad have collapsed contaminating the floodwater, with imminent related health risks. The main water plant proving drinking water to the city is also at risk.”

Oxfam has been working in the department of Beni since March 2007, providing water and sanitation, disaster preparedness and rehabilitation process for the most affected families in Trinidad and Santa Ana municipalities, which were severely affected one year ago. A similar situation is occurring this year, yet worsened by the “El Niña” phenomenon and the deforestation in the water basins, which has led the sediments to gradually silt the rivers of the region reducing their capacity to carry water. Flood waters are already higher than last year’s historic levels, and the waters continue to rise.

“Right now we have an increasing number of people in shelters, representing a series of logistical and disaster response challenges which are stretching the capacities of local authorities”, says Roger Quiroga. “Sanitation and sewage treatment facilities outside the dike system in Trinidad have collapsed contaminating the flood water, with imminent related health risks, and there is a number of rural communities that have also been flooded. We also expect the emergence of cases of dengue and yellow-fever as a result of an increase in the number of mosquitoes in the region.”

Oxfam´s aid will be implemented in the municipalities of Trinidad, Riberalta, San Borja, and San Ana, all of them in the Department of Beni.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:
Roger Quiroga, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Officer (on the ground):
Tel: +591 77298997 or +591 76204535

Renato Guimarães, Oxfam’s Communication Officer (in Lima)
Tel:+511 9751-0951
Email: rguimaraes@oxfam.org.pe