Bolivia Phenomenon La Niña Flash Appeal 2008

21 February 2008

Since November 2007, extreme climatic events caused by the La Niña phenomenon are affecting all nine departments of Bolivia.  Floods, mudslides and landslides have caused loss of lives, injury and displacements, as well as damage to housing, infrastructure and agriculture.  The most vulnerable communities have lost their livelihoods and income, in many cases for the third subsequent year.  Official preliminary information as of 13 February 2008 shows that the floods have killed 52 persons, and have affected 58,887 households (some 300,000 persons).  These statistics will increase as the climatically adverse conditions persist over the coming weeks, and the water in the main lowland rivers remains at critical levels.

By mid-February heavy rainfall in the country, and extreme water flows from upstream areas towards the lower regions, had raised rivers in several Departments (Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Beni) to historic levels, creating extensive floods in many communities.  Especially critical is the situation in Trinidad, the capital city of Beni department.  Its population, and the displaced people sheltered in urban camps, are at risk of evacuation.  Water levels in the north and lowest regions are expected to keep rising over the coming weeks, and the situation will remain precarious for at least the next two months.  Because of the magnitude of the disaster, the Government declared a national emergency situation by Supreme Decree No. 29425 on 21 January.  On February 12, following the growing impact of the emergency, the Government issued a National Disaster Declaration through Supreme Decree no. 29438. Support from the international community was requested.

The Civil Defence (Defensa Civil) is leading the emergency response in the country.  Emergency Operations Centres (COE) at national, departmental and municipal levels have been activated, and the UN has been actively involved in organising and coordinating the sector response, and supporting the generation of information.  Other assistance has come through bilateral cooperation, the Red Cross, NGOs, private companies and individuals.  It is important to highlight that the response and coordination capacities, as compared to previous years, has visibly improved.  This is partly due to the capacity building initiatives provided by United Nations agencies and NGOs in previous emergencies.  It is also due to regional and local government institutions being provided with pre-positioned emergency stocks, thus allowing a timely response in some cases.  

However, because of the extent of the emergency in terms of the area affected and the duration, unless immediate measures are taken to overcome the impacts of this disaster, poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition and vulnerability will increase, thus generating an increased challenge for the Government in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  Bearing in mind the current context and the lessons learnt from the response to the 2007 Flash Appeal, the UN system, in coordination with the Government and other partners, has prioritised in order of importance the following sectors: food security and nutrition; shelter and housing; water and sanitation; child protection; education; minimum accessibility restoration for humanitarian assistance; agriculture; health; and institutional coordination and territorial integration.

This appeal seeks $18,215,196 for international partners (eight UN agencies and eight international NGOs) to support the Government of Bolivia in its response to the floods.  The $2,271,874 provided by CERF leaves an unfunded balance of $15,943,322.  Targeted assistance will be provided during the next six months, while concerted efforts will be made to mobilise longer-term programmes for recovery.  The appeal will be updated to reflect new needs as the situation evolves.

Document History

21 February 2008

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