A dried farmland is seen during the worst drought in 25 years in El Choro, Bolivia, on 1 December 2016. Photo: David Mercado / Reuters

4 January 2017 (The Associated Press) – Last year, the flowering quinoa plants painted Florencio Tola's farmlands in vibrant sepia and ochre tones.

But this season, all that could be seen was the straw colour of dried-out stalks that never germinated amid Bolivia's worst drought in 30 years. Nearby a collection of scrawny cows, with their ribs protruding and flaccid udders, grazed on what little vegetation could be found on the sere ground.

"It's as if I had never sown anything," said Tola, 60, who like thousands of other farmers planted his quinoa in October ahead of the rainy season that usually runs through March.

He and thousands of other farmers in the Bolivian high plains believe they have been hit by a particularly strong weather phenomenon known as El Nino, caused by warming waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Crops and livestock were decimated, and reservoirs that supply the capital of La Paz and other cities have dropped to alarming levels. Lake Poopo, Bolivia's second-largest, has dried up entirely.

"The 2015-2016 (El Niño) is one of the strongest in 30 years, although scientists' verdict on its role in the current drought has not been concluded yet," said Dirk Hoffmann, a glacial and climate specialist who directs the Bolivian Mountain Institute, a research and advisory foundation.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has warned that if the rainy season is delayed further, it could deplete food supply next year. In October he approved a $250 million emergency plan to support those affected by the drought by drilling wells to stave off potential water shortages. […]

In many rural villages, farmers' desperation is so great that Roman Catholic saints have been brought out in processions and offerings have been made to the Pachamama, or Mother Earth of indigenous tradition, beseeching her for the rains to arrive.

"Families are beginning to migrate," said Mayor Jaime Mendieta of Pasorapa, a village in the high valleys of central Bolivia. "You see it in the schools. Children are enrolled in neighbouring municipalities where there is water because parents know there will be production there."  [more]

Record drought in Bolivia drains lakes, threatens capital


A farmer stands next to a carcass of a cow during the worst drought in 25 years in El Choro, Bolivia. Photo: David Mercado / Reuters

By Jesús Cardozo G.
31 December 2016

[Translation by Google.]

(El País) – The severe drought that is registered since 2015 in the upper area of ​​the department of Tarija, and remains to date, killed about 1,500 sheep and more than 600 llamas in different communities within the municipality of Yunchará. There were problems of diseases in the animals, because of the lack of water and fodder.

This information was made known by the Assemblyman by the Movement to Socialism (MAS) of that municipality, Basilio Ramos, who reported that due to the lack of water and fodder for the animals, the peasant families of different communities of the second section of Avilés lost some 2,100 heads of cattle, between sheep and llamas.

"According to a rapid assessment with community leaders, the death toll this year from the effects of the drought has been severe. At least 1,500 sheep and 600 llamas of all sizes have died due to lack of water and grass that has not existed in the prairies for months," Ramos explained.

The authority said that the number of animals killed due to lack of water and fodder in the more distant and dry areas may increase in the following days, due to the seasonal change in the fields. A situation that causes diseases such as diarrhea, colic and parasites in newborn animals and in full growth.

The Deputy Governor of Yunchara, Eleodoro Jurado, stated that the problem of drought in her region, in addition to the death of cattle, ended with one hundred percent loss of the crops of potatoes, maize, barley, beans, and some fruit trees such as grapes, apples, and peaches, mainly in the San del Oro River basin. In addition, the lack of rain and water in almost two years, both for the consumption of the population, animals and crops in the 45 communities of the municipality of Yunchará, caused the migration Of the 50 percent of the families to other cities like Tarija, Santa Cruz and the Argentine north.

"The lack of water this year caused 50 percent of the peasant families in our communities to migrate to other parts of the country and Argentina, because the situation in our area is critical. And to continue the phenomenon of drought our municipality will have a massive migration in the coming months, "he warned.

Facing this situation, Leoncio Farfán, the executive of the Peasant Central of Yunchará, indicated that the peasants of that region asked the authorities of the Municipality and the Subgovernment that, next year, the economic resources of their budgets Majority, to the execution of water projects for the consumption of the families and irrigation for the agricultural production.

The municipal authorities of that region calculate that between 2015 and 2016 the effects of the drought and the lack of water left in the agricultural sector a loss near the 12 million Bolivianos and to more than 2,000 families affected in all the high zone Of Tarija.

Another region in the department of Tarija that survived the lack of water since 2015 is the municipality of El Puente, as the effects of the drought left a loss of 35 million Bolivians and affected more than 5,000 families to date, according to the evaluation of the municipal authorities.

In view of this situation, the mayor of El Puente, Hugo Girón, reported that together with the National Government, more than three million Bolivians were allocated to drill 10 water wells in the different districts of the second section of the Méndez province. That way it is planned to solve the lack of water that is a recurring problem every year.

The deputy governor of that municipality, Bartolomé López, reported that the problems of drought and lack of water in the peasant communities of the second section of Mendez remain unresolved, because to date the authorities of the Interior have not transferred The economic resources necessary for the care of the victims and the execution of projects.

Sequía en la zona alta mató 1.500 ovejas y 600 llamas

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