Over 26,000 Families Affected by Rains in Bolivia
February 2, 2010 - Latin American Herald Tribune

LA PAZ – A total of 26,412 families have been affected since the end of 2009 by intense rains, landslides and overflowing rivers in Bolivia, an emergency management official said on Sunday.

Hernan Tuco, the deputy minister in charge of emergency management, provided the figure in an interview with state television.

President Evo Morales's administration declared a state of emergency last week due to the bad weather mainly affecting the regions of Beni in the northeast, Santa Cruz in the east, Chuquisaca in the southeast, Cochabamba in the central part of the country and La Paz, Tuco said.

There have been, according to official reports, two deaths in Cochabamba, three in Potosi in the southwest, three in Chuquisaca and one in Santa Cruz resulting from the rains.

The national state of emergency will allow the government to better coordinate with the provincial and local governments to provide immediate and effective attention to the rain-caused problems that are occurring around the country, Tuco said.

The measure also allows international groups and governments to provide finances and donations to the government exempt from taxes to support the people who have been affected, Tuco said.

The decree will also release $25.4 million to alleviate the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The government declared the national emergency one day after 118 families, comprising 400 people in all, lost 72 homes that collapsed in a neighborhood in southern La Paz after intense rains over the past few days.

The supply of food in the domestic market is assured, given that the flooding has affected only 0.40 percent of the national production, Tuco said, adding that the government will monitor the situation to make sure that no speculation or price-gouging occurs in the prices of basic foodstuffs.