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Heavy rains in Bolivia have destroyed homes and killed at least 31 people.

Originally published: 2014-02-17 15:59:57
Last modified: 2014-02-17 16:00:43

Flood Response in Bolivia

Heavy and persistent rains have caused the major rivers in Bolivia to overflow, causing catastrophic flooding that has destroyed livestock, crops, and homes and claimed at least 31 lives.

Help Flood Victims in BoliviaSamaritan's Purse is mobilizing staff and resources to flood-affected areas where we will provide aid to victims of the disaster. Our team is procuring and assembling relief supplies from neighboring cities and arranging transportation. We will begin distributions next week in a community where we have previously worked.

We are working through local ministry partners, including the local Christian Evangelic Union church, which has agreed to let Samaritan's Purse use its property as a staging point for our relief efforts.

Rainfall began in October 2013, but it did not become a national concern until January 25 when flooding caused significant casualties in the communities of Rurrenabaque and San Buena Aventura. On January 27, the Bolivian government declared a state of emergency, following reports that 80 municipalities had been affected.

The Bolivian department of Beni, where Samaritan's Purse has a regional office, is one of the worst affected areas. Nearly 4,000 families are currently displaced, some having been sent to shelters or relocated to tents along the roads of the city of Trinidad.

On February 4, the departmental government of Beni requested aid from local NGOs, giving Samaritan's Purse the green light to respond.

As rainwaters from the valleys make their way to the Amazon Basin, the situation is expected to worsen significantly. River communities are encouraged to evacuate to displacement camps. Local farmers are resistant to move due to the fear of losing livestock during the flood. It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of the population will remain in the affected area, exposing them to additional danger.

Local departmental leaders coordinating disaster efforts say there are urgent needs for clean water and hygiene items. Samaritan's Purse expects to play a major role in assisting with the provision of water filtration supplies, jerry cans, hygiene kits, blankets, and other non-food items.

We also will be deploying a medical team to provide aid to victims of the flood.

Since 2011, Samaritan's Purse has been operating a mobile boat clinic along the Mamore and Isiboro Rivers, providing medical and dental services to vulnerable families. The two main rivers it navigates are among the most affected by the current flood. Because of this, Samaritan's Purse is well positioned to respond medically during the current situation. In mid-February, the boat will be hosting a group of doctors and dentists from World Medical Mission who will be working along our national staff to bring relief to those in need.