- Title: Bolivia's Morales visits areas affected by serious drought
- Date: 22nd November 2016
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (NOVEMBER 22, 2016) (REUTERS) NINO JESUS SCHOOL WATER CISTERN ARRIVING AT THE SCHOOL CISTERN FILLING WATER TANK VARIOUS OF CISTERN FILLING TANK, WITH POLICE AND FIREMEN GENERAL VIEW OF WATER TANKS WITH CHILDREN AROUND VARIOUS OF CHILDREN AROUND WATER TANKS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SCHOOL DIRECTOR, ROCIO LAZARTE, SAYING: "We have gone more than three weeks without a water supply. All we had for the children was the water from the hillside." CHILDREN OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL VARIOUS OF PEOPLE QUEUING BY CISTERN TRUCK MANAGED BY FIRE SERVICE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WITH BUCKETS QUEUING TO RECEIVE WATER SUPPLIED BY POLICE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT OF MALLASA, ROXANA LARUTA, SAYING: "We are going to bring water in buckets just for our consumption. We cannot even clean ourselves, much less wash our clothes or anything like that." PEOPLE CARRYING WATER IN A RUBBER BIN
- Embargoed: 7th December 2016 20:33
- Keywords: drought water shortage Bolivia Evo Morales La Paz
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Droughts,Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA00259J2CSJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bolivian President Evo Morales cancelled his official agenda on Tuesday (November 22) to visit a water reserve in the capital, La Paz, where a peasant community has allegedly been diverting water sources amid the worst drought in 25 years.
Morales travelled along with workers of the public water supplier EPSAS to the Alpacoma neighbourhood, where peasant communities have allegedly been diverting a river for their own consumption.
Morales arrived with the intention of channelling the water back towards central water reserves which would supply wider sectors of the capital, but met resistance from the local community.
"Now you are looking at our Cairon reserve. No more water is coming. There are rumours that they are going to pump this water, but we won't allow that. It is ok that they collect the water there but they have to speak to the "jilakata" leader, we have a "mallku" community leader in charge of eight communities, but this area belongs to Palcoma," said a local resident.
Bolivia's government declared a state of emergency on Monday due to water shortages in large swaths of the country, making funds available to alleviate a crisis that has affected families and the agricultural sector.
Morales said water is a human right and that the diversion of sources from the reserves could not be permitted.
"Never... I don't know where he got this idea of pumping (the water out of here). I already saw this yesterday. You never told me about this. Be careful, I do not want to talk about that. You were hiding this, if we want to speak the truth, water is a human right," said Morales.
Bolivian primary schools are to close early this year as a method of preventing a spread of infection and sickness among children, the Minister of Education declared this week. Primary school classes will end on November 25, whilst secondary school students will finish their round of tests on December 3, two weeks earlier than planned.
In the meantime, the ministry has provided tanks of water for schools in La Paz, as rationing intensifies.
"We have gone more than three weeks without a water supply. All we had for the children was the water from the hillside," said the director of the Nino Jesus School in La Paz.
The majority of neighbourhoods in the capital are receiving water supplies just three days a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and otherwise depends on public or private cisterns.
"We are going to bring water in buckets just for our consumption. We cannot even clean ourselves, much less wash our clothes or anything like that," local resident Roxana Laruta said.
Morales also designated Juan Ramon Quintana, Minister of the Presidency, to preside over a so-called Water Cabinet made up of seven ministries, which is to meet each day to draw up solutions to the water crisis.
Bolivia's Vice Ministry of Civil Defence estimated that the drought has affected 125,000 families and threatened 290,000 hectares (716,605 acres) of agricultural land and 360,000 heads of cattle.
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