The Bolivian government recently declared a state of emergency in response to the worst drought the country has experienced in 25 years. Water shortages have ignited protests, and an estimated 125,000 families have been impacted by the drought. President Evo Morales said, “We have to be prepared for the worst.”
There are 339 municipalities in Bolivia, and 172 had already declared their own state of emergency. According to a Pan American Health Organization report, 70 percent of people in Bolivia don’t have enough drinking water. Most of Bolivia’s capital city has access to water only every third day, for just three hours, according to Al Jazeera. Bolivia’s Vice Ministry of Civil Defense estimates 360,000 cows and 716,605 acres used for agriculture have been hit by the drought.
President Morales said the country could use the crisis to “plan large investments” for Bolivia to adapt to a diminished water supply due to climate change. He also said local governments should set aside money and workers to obtain water from nearby water bodies and through drilling wells, and to transport that water to cities with the help of military forces.
But some reservoirs and other water sources are nearly empty. Three dams supplying water to La Paz, home to nearly 800,000 people, are nearly dry. One of the dam’s capacities is at one percent, and the other two are at around eight percent. Al Jazeera reports that locals have protested the water shortages, and some protesters even held the country’s deputy water minister and water authorities hostage.