Bolivia declares state of emergency due to drought
Bolivia has declared a national state of emergency over water shortages in large areas of land amid the country’s worst drought in 25 years.
According to the Ministry of Civil Defense, the drought has affected 125,000 families and is threatening hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land.
President Evo Morales called on local governments to allocate budget for drilling wells and getting help from workers to transport water to families and farmers who are affected by the shortage.
He attributed the unforeseen water shortage to climate change and global warming. “It’s now everyone’s obligation not to waste water,” Morales said.
The Bolivian president also dismissed arguments that Chinese mining projects had caused the water shortage, saying such allegations were aimed at exaggerating and politicizing the issue.
Morales made the remarks in reaction to a protest rally held outside the Chinese Embassy on Sunday, which blamed the mining projects for the acute water crisis.
Severe drought in Bolivia has triggered protests in other cities as well as conflicts between miners and farmers.
Last week, protesters in the country’s second largest city, El Alto, took hostage several authorities including Deputy Water Minister Ruben Mendez. They were freed after police intervened.
According to the Environment Ministry, more than half of the country’s municipalities, suffering from lack of water, had already issued their own emergencies.
The drought has caused shortages in seven of the country’s 10 biggest cities since two weeks ago. The level of water in three main dams that supply the drought-hit area is at a record low.
2016 has been the hottest year in a century for the Andean nation.