UN seeks $1.8 million to feed Bolivians hit by drought

16 November 2004

United Nations humanitarian agencies today announced an appeal for $1.8 million to bring emergency aid to 180,000 people in Bolivia's drought-stricken El Chaco region over the next seven months.

A prolonged dry spell is severely threatening the food security, health and the nutritional status of children in the southeastern El Chaco region. The acute nature of this year's drought compounds the effects of previous problems in the region, posing the risk of a "major humanitarian crisis," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

A recent assessment by UN agencies found that in some areas, 93 per cent of the maize crop - the population's main food source - has been lost. "Food availability is of major concern now and is expected to worsen until the next harvest in May 2005," OCHA warned.

With 85 per cent of affected families living mainly on rain-fed subsistence agriculture, the drought has undermined their ability to produce enough food to meet daily requirements. The drought has limited access to safe drinking water, forcing people to risk the spread of disease by using the same source of water as their livestock.

Families which have exhausted their food stocks are reducing their meals while heads of households are increasingly migrating in search of a means to mitigate the situation.


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