When the Rains Fall: Impacts on a Vulnerable Population

Flooding can have devastating impacts, particularly when a city’s infrastructure is not suitable for the number of inhabitants, as is the case in Quillacollo. A succession of floods caused by torrential rains over the Rio Rocha’s watershed have seen the river burst its banks, overwhelming the city’s sewage system. Raw waste flooding peoples homes has created serious health risks for those least equipped to deal with it. A resident of the Providencia neighbourhood spoke about the impacts on the children of the community:

“Our children are getting sick with diarrhea, they have skin infections, mosquitos are biting them too much….All of  [the waste] that is released from the North…arrives here if it doesn’t go with the river, automatically it is discharged here in the avenue and in these houses.”

Quillacollo residents rescue what they can of their possessions

When heavy rains and flooding hit heavily populated urban areas, some residents are able to sit comfortably out of the fray. This isn’t the case for many Bolivians whose increased exposure can be attributed to their recent migration to precarious housing zones (PHZ). These areas often lack basic infrastructure (water provisions and proper sanitary systems) and consequently are increasingly vulnerable. According to the UNDP report on the impacts of climate change in Bolivia, over 50,000 families are at risk from possible landslides caused by flooding.

“You can’t trust in this weather. The situation has changed. The climate problem has changed. It’s like the world has taken a turn…”

– Carlos Vargas, community member 

Read more in-depth reporting – including lots more quotes from local residents themselves – on how people have been hit by the floods in Quillacollo: The Voices Behind the Numbers

Other Resources on Flooding and Related Impacts

These photos show the devastating impact of a major landslide in the city of La Paz in February 2011

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This video from CIPCA is part of a series about climate change impacts in Bolivia. This chapter focuses on ‘Frost and Floods’: