As the magnitude of the heavy rains and raging floods in Bolivia becomes apparent, WFP has tripled the number of flood-affected people it is assisting to 41,200, and the number is expected to rise to more than 60,000 by the weekend.
“The rains are continuing and we are very worried,” said WFP Country Director Vitoria Ginja who had just returned from the heavily affected department of Cochabamba.
“We expect by this weekend to be feeding an additional 20,000 people and that number could go up even further.”
The floods coincide with an outbreak of dengue fever and there is concern that the rain and floods will spread the disease. There has also been an increased incidence of yellow fever and malaria.
WFP is in the process of preparing an urgent response appeal to international donors for almost US$500,000 to feed the victims.
The aim is to offer assistance for a period of at least one month to enable families to return to their homes and restart their lives.
Women and children focus
Currently WFP is distributing food in the departments of Tarija, Chuquisaca, Potosi, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
The food basket includes micronutrient fortified foods which are intended mainly for women and children to prevent a nutritional crisis.
Those most affected by the floods are people living in river zones. The bulk of this population live mainly from subsistence agriculture and have lost their crops, food stocks and livestock.
The next harvest was expected in a few months. Families were already getting by on dwindling supplies from the previous harvest when the flooding began last month.