Bolivia is currently facing a severe crisis due to a combination of intense winter heat fueled by the climate crisis and the El Niño phenomenon. Large portions of the country are experiencing drought, water shortages, and rising average temperatures. Local authorities have issued stark warnings, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation during what has turned out to be the hottest winter ever recorded in the country. Temperatures have skyrocketed to a scorching 40°C. Notably, on 25 September, Bolivia recorded its highest-ever September temperature, reaching 40.3°C. In the weeks ahead, some regions are expected to experience even more extreme temperatures, potentially reaching as high as 45°C. By December, there is a “high probability” Bolivia’s iconic Lake Titicaca will be 64cm below the drought alert level, breaking a low water record set in 1998 by 33cm (1).
The Bolivian Drought Monitor reveals that all of the country’s Macroregions, which are spatial monitoring units with similar climatic characteristics, are witnessing areas affected by drought. However, as indicated in Map 2, the Macroregions Altiplano (3,200 to 5,000 masl), Valles (1,500 to 3,000 masl), Yungas-Chapare (150 to 4,200 masl), and Chaco (279 to 2,000 masl) are the most severely impacted, experiencing significant soil moisture loss and displaying areas of moderate to extreme drought (2).
At the departmental level, the drought is most severely affecting seven out of Bolivia’s nine departments: La Paz, Potosí, Cochabamba, Oruro, Chuquisaca, Tarija and Santa Cruz. In four of these departments – Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Oruro, and Potosí – the Departmental Emergency Operations Centers (COED) have recommended the declaration of a state of emergency.
Consequently, on 29 September, the Departmental Autonomous Government of Oruro promulgated Departmental Decree No. 235, titled “Declaration of Departmental Disaster due to Adverse Drought Event in Oruro Municipalities,” in response to the drought’s impact on over 200 communities (3).
Similarly, on 21 September, the Departmental Autonomous Government of Cochabamba, through Decree No. 5585, declared a Departmental State of Emergency due to the ongoing drought situation. They called upon Municipal Autonomous Governments, Indigenous Peasant Farmers of Cochabamba, and the general public to use water responsibly for both irrigation and human consumption. Additionally, they urged everyone to take preventive and preparatory measures in anticipation of potential adverse events, emergencies, or disasters resulting from the current conditions. Notably, the recorded rainfall in municipalities has been the lowest since 1950, measuring less than 200 millimeters (4).
On 14 September, the Autonomous Departmental Government of Chuquisaca declared a Departmental Emergency due to Meteorological (Frost) and Climatological (Drought) Threats via Departmental Decree No. 034. At the time of this departmental decree, 14 municipalities had already declared a State of Municipal Emergency, affecting over 68,690 families in the department (5).
Source : Relief Web