- Title: Bolivian drought worsens as water rationing declared permanent
- Date: 19th November 2016
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (NOVEMBER 17, 2016) (REUTERS) JANKHO KHOTA DAM WITHOUT WATER CLOSE OF DAM GATE VARIOUS OF SMALL PUDDLE VARIOUS OF DRY DAM FLOOR, WITH SPOTS OF WATER, AND PEOPLE WALKING ON IT AND ATVS DRIVING ON IT VARIOUS OF DAM AND LOW WATER LEVELS (SOUNDBITE) (Aymara) LOCAL RESIDENT, IRLARIA QUISPE, SAYING: "Jankho Khota is dry. The water is drying up, there's very little, nothing more. And my youngest son wants water. And the water is drying up." PEASANT WOMAN WALKING TOWARDS DAM
- Embargoed: 4th December 2016 19:34
- Keywords: Evo Morales water rationing rainfall
- Location: LA PAZ AND EL ALTO, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ AND EL ALTO, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Droughts,Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA0015940UV7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT INCLUDES MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
In the face of a worsening drought, Bolivian authorities have declared water rationing to be a permanent measure to combat their crisis. The three main dams that supply water to the city of La Paz are almost dry. Leftist Bolivian President, Evo Morales, is blaming global warming as locals increase their protests in their pleas for water, and even briefly took a government minister hostage.
The main Ajuan Khota dam is at 1 percent of capacity, while the other two dams are averaging 8 percent capacity, which has led to the unprecedented programmed water cuts.
"Jankho Khota is dry. The water is drying up, there's very little, nothing more. And my youngest son wants water. And the water is drying up," said area resident, Irlaria Quispe.
The drying up of major dams has been accompanied by similar developments in area lakes in the landlocked South American country.
Power is also being cut in and around La Paz.
A week of protests by frustrated area residents is escalating tensions. As they struggle to till their lands and nourish their families, locals are pointing their finger at the authorities, and even took hostage the Bolivian Minister for Water, Ruben Mendez, at the Fejuve community centre before police forces freed him. They have also been blocking roads.
Speaking to Reuters, area residents explained their frustration.
"We need water, and for that reason we are setting up a block here. There is no water since Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. The bills are high and come in Monday evening. But the water is dirty, yellow, and now the dirty water is what we have to drink," said area resident, Virginia Lopez.
According to the Environment Ministry, at least 172 municipalities, which correspond to half the country and more than 125,000 families are suffering from a lack of water.
"We want to issue a warning before another disaster that could occur in El Alto, the second largest city in Bolivia, which is to have water for four more months, and right now there are neighbourhoods that have no water during the day in El Alto. So we are going out in defence of life, a quality of life," said one human rights activist, Olga Flores Pedregal.
Bolivia was home to two water wars in 1999 and 2004 at the end of which control of water was handed over from private hands to the state.
Bolivia's environment and water minister, Alexandra Moreira, has criticized water providers and said they should be sanctioned for not activating preventative measures earlier in the year.
But speaking on the issue, Bolivian President Evo Morales, blamed the larger forces in play.
"After taking a tour at dawn via helicopter, I have seen lakes that continue drying up, as people continue telling me. We can't throw blame among ourselves. It's global warming," he said in La Paz.
Climate change has shrunk Bolivia's Andean glaciers between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to several published science journals.
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