By Lisett Larico
(c) HelpAge International The number of people affected by the massive landslides in La Paz has now risen to 6,000, according to the city's Municipal Government.
The disaster caused serious structural damage to over 1,700 homes in nine neighbourhoods of the city.
Almost 400 families have been moved to 15 temporary shelter camps, housing a total of 1,886 people, including children and older people.
Many of those affected by the landslides have lost all of their possessions.
Meeting the needs of older people
Older people in the temporary shelters have particular health conditions that require treatment, for example stomach and respiratory complaints, and lumbago.
These conditions are exacerbated in the aftermath of the disaster by poor sanitation, rationed drinking water, and exposure to intense cold weather.
HelpAge International has been working in coordination with the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies in Bolivia (CBHA) to deliver aid to older people in need.
We have sent the following supplies to the Municipal Government of La Paz Emergencies Operations Centre:
- 180 blankets
- 50 mattresses
- 100 buckets of water
- 20 walking canes
- 3 wheelchairs
- 1,200 rolls of toilet paper, and
- 80 incontinence pants.
These items will be handed out to all older people affected by the devastating landslide.
Helping older people to cope
We are also coordinating the provision of 400 tents for the temporary shelter camps. Of these, 200 will be provided to those affected by the disaster in La Paz. The rest will be sent to people who have lost their homes due to flooding in other parts of Bolivia.
HelpAge and Plan International, member organisations of the CBHA, will work in coordination with the La Paz Municipal Government to provide educational packs on how to cope in emergency situations to children and older persons.
We are also training the municipal team on the appropriate treatment of older persons in emergencies.
Delivering aid through the HelpAge network
HelpAge has helped local partner organisation, Awicha CAUP (a community of older Aymara women and men) to set up a temporary shelter. They are providing food, blankets and mattresses for older people at the shelter and ensuring those that need it have access to healthcare.
Another HelpAge partner, the National Association of Older Persons of Bolivia (ANAMBO) has begun a campaign to collect supplies for all older persons. A collection centre has been set up at the Socio-legal Advice Centre in central La Paz.
All donations received will be channelled through the Municipal Government's Emergencies Operations Centre.
Carlos Loza, President of ANAMBO said:
"We are very saddened by all that has happened to our older brothers and sisters. We are calling out to people all over Bolivia to help us and stand by their older people.
"So often in these emergency situations older people's particular needs are forgotten."
Disaster has hit the entire country
Overflowing of rivers and floods have had a huge impact on the entire country, with 14,000 families and 70,000 victims registered so far.
Areas most affected are La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, and Beni, according to the Bolivian Vice-Ministry of Civil Defence.
In recent days the Bolivian National Meteorology and Hydrology Service (SENAMHI) announced that the rains will continue until the end of March. This means that the identified risk areas will continue to be in imminent danger of being hit by further flooding and landslides.