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Bolivia declares flooding emergency in lowlands

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 17, 2019
Bolivia declares flooding emergency in lowlands

Bolivia's government declared a state of emergency in the central lowlands after torrential rains sparked widespread flooding and landslides.

Flooding by the Ichilo river has caused damage to the homes of 7,500 families and swept away 5,500ha of crop fields in Cochabamba department's Villa Tunari, Entre Ríos and Chimoré municipalities, regional government official Gonzalo Muñoz told state news agency ABI.

The government may increase a 50mn-boliviano (US$7mn) emergency budget to handle the natural disasters, which have left at 1,388 families homeless around the country, civil defense vice-president Javier Ayllón said.

The rain season is expected to continue through February, with cattle ranchers in neighboring Beni department being urged to evacuate ahead of expected flooding, he said. Potosí and Santa Cruz departments have also been declared in emergency after they were hit by flooding earlier this month.

"With rivers at these levels today, we assume there will be flooding," Ayllón said. "We hope it won't be as bad as in 2014, but there will be flooding whatever happens."

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In related news, the government of Holland pledged to donate 3.3mn euros (US$2.9mn) to a 9.4mn-euro upgrade of the Pampahasi potable water treatment plant in La Paz, Bolivia's environment and water ministry said.

The project, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency's Development-Related Infrastructure Investment Vehicle (Drive), aims to increase the amount of treated water and improve its quality, the ministry said in a statement. The plant upgrade is also being financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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