Mining is Exacerbating Drought in Bolivia

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Report, South America

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA—Environmental and Land rights organizations have released reports claiming that the boom in the mining industry has exacerbated the severe drought hitting Bolivia. Bolivia is currently facing a water shortage. President Evo Morales declared a state of emergency in late November due to the shortage.

Frustrated citizens protest the water shortage in Bolivia. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
Frustrated citizens protest the water shortage in Bolivia. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

Although the drought has severely impacted the water supply, the mining companies have further reduced the water supply, according to Environmentalist. Mining companies use an estimated 100,000 cubic meters of water on a daily basis which is the same amount of water used by the capital. As the mineral market continues to increase, the mining companies, regardless of the shortage of water, will increase the water intake. Hector Cordova, a mine engineer stated that “mining companies would continue to put an increase in profits ahead of drought-relayed consequences.” The mining companies have diverted water supplies and contaminated the water supply—an accusation the president of Bolivia denies. Reports have shown that the groundwater reserves are now below fifty percent.

Bolivia is currently facing the worst drought in over 25 years leading to water cuts in the country. The capital city is receiving water for three hours every three days. In the Corque municipality seventy percent of the population does not have drinking water. The drought has affected 177,000 families and has threatened both the agriculture and cattle industry. The President has allocated funds to local governments to drill wells in order to transport water.

The water shortage has caused frustration among residents. The leaders of the Federation of Town Councils held water and city official’s hostage demanding a resolution to the water shortage.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera—Bolivia Declares National Emergency Amid Drought—21 November 2016.

Reuters—Bolivia Declares State of Emergency Due to Drought, Water Shortage—21 November 2016.

Reuters—Mining Projects, Big Plantations Mean Bolivia’s Drought Hurts More: Campaigners—28 November 2016.

Al Jazeera—Is Mining to Blame for the Drought in Bolivia?—7 December 2016.

Author: Cintia Garcia

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