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WFP assists 10,000 families in flood-stricken Bolivia

WFP will provide almost 500,000 thousand dollars for 617 metric tons of emergency food relief to 10,000 families affected by record rainfall and severe floods in Bolivia, which have killed 13 people and left tens of thousands of families homeless.

Already, 4,468 families have received WFP food assistance (93 metric tons) in the departments of La Paz, Beni and Santa Cruz.

Reaching the worst areas is made difficult by continued bad weather in most parts of the country and poor roads. In the Department of La Paz alone, 1,400 kilometres of roads have been destroyed, hampering the flow humanitarian aid.

Thousands in need

The most affected areas are located in the departments of Santa Cruz, La Paz and Beni. The government announced that there are 33,856 affected families and that 12,742 are in need of humanitarian aid.

Most victims have been evacuated and have taken refuge in tents in nearby communities, but others are simply on their own.

Record rainfall

Record levels of rain have been recorded in Bolivia during January 2006. Just in the highlands rainfall was nearly three times the annual average.

As a consequence, the highlands and the Amazon River basin flooded, causing serious damage to houses, crops, roads and other basic infrastructure.

Rural families, who rely mainly on subsistence farming, have been badly affected. According to WFP, nearly 60 percent of the municipalities affected by the disaster are already considered to have medium- or high-level food insecurity.

More rain forecast

The National Weather Service forecasts more heavy rainfalls over the next few weeks, and expects lightning and hail storms. These would worsen the already precarious situation of the affected families.

WFP, the Government of Bolivia, other UN agencies and NGOs are currently assessing the exact needs and number of people affected. The UN System in Bolivia is preparing a joint appeal to mobilize resources for this emergency.