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In the face of the driest summer in 20 years in Bolivia’s already arid El Chaco region, WSPA has begun to supply water to safeguard more than 14,000 animals from possible death.
All nine provinces of the vast nation, South America’s poorest, have been affected by a sharp decline in rainfall since November last year, leaving water supplies, even for human consumption, especially low in rural areas, and led to the loss of livestock.
Since the Bolivian government declared a state of emergency in the El Chaco region, a vast area of agricultural land, staff from WSPA’s Regional Office for South America first travelled to the nation from Colombia to assess the situation for animals in the agriculture–dependent region.
The Disaster Management team found that the situation for the animals, especially livestock, in the most affected regions of Charagua, Boyuiye and Cuevo, is critical: water provided by the government is insufficient even to supply the 19,000 people affected in the area, and the drought is predicted to extend into December.
WSPA has undertaken a 60-day programme, financing three lorries with a capacity of 15,000 litres of water to deliver to livestock owners at least twice daily, although the supplies are also given to dogs, pigs, horses and goats.
This intervention is only seen as a temporary measure however, whilst the government begins to dig more wells in the agricultural communities in the area and plans forms of water storage to avoid run-off or rapid evaporation in the future.
Luis Carlos Sarmiento, Regional Director for WSPA South America says: “This is a difficult time for the animals in Bolivia’s El Chaco; it is very sad to see animals die and even harder to know that rainfall levels will continue to be low. We definitely need to be there, however this time we are not only responding to the emergency, we are also involved in local authority efforts to ensure that the animals wont go through this again. The local community knows that the dry season could grow longer, so we need to make provision for looking after their valuable animals, not only for the animals own sake, but also to protect livelihoods and the people’s future.”