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Bolivia is experiencing the worst flooding in its history. While flooding is a common natural hazard in the country at this time of year, heavy rains over the last three months have caused various rivers that feed the Amazon to overflow even more than normal. The floods have washed away homes, destroyed cattle and crops and caused landslides that have blocked off roads, isolating many rural communities and ruining livelihoods. Responding to the emergency request for help, AmeriCares delivered medicines and medical supplies to help tens of thousands affected by the disaster.
“This is a community that has a difficult time meeting day-to-day needs under normal circumstances,” said Hector Emmanuelli, AmeriCares program manager for Bolivia. “So when this disaster hit, we knew it was important to respond with medical relief to address the numerous health risks that accompany such an emergency.”
Nearly 400,000 people have been affected by the severe weather and 25,000 of those were left homeless. A lack of sanitation and limited access to safe water as a result of the disaster has increased the risk of disease, such as malaria and dengue fever. Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections also have increased exponentially, according to the United Nations.
AmeriCares delivered the emergency relief aid upon a request from its on-the-ground partners, Save the Children, Procosi and ProSalud. The shipment included antibiotics, emergency medicines and supplies such as gauze and bandages and had a total worth of $730,000.
In addition to this emergency response, AmeriCares partners were able to respond earlier to the crisis by taking advantage of medicines that AmeriCares had previously shipped in a regular delivery to the country as part of an ongoing program. The government of Bolivia declared a state of emergency more than a month ago. The severity of the rains and the flooding is being attributed to the El Niño weather effect.
AmeriCares has been sending medicines and medical supplies to Bolivia since 1993 in response to the needs of this highly impoverished country where 63 percent live below the poverty line.