Saturday, November 26, 2022

Lack of rain in Bolivia causes urban lagoons to evaporate

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia ( Associated Press) – The city of Cochabamba used to be called the bread basket of Bolivia for its fertile valley, but a lack of rain, especially in the Andean region this year, is replacing two lakes that were once the city’s main attraction , Due to rapid evaporation of water in a barren land the land is barren and torn.

Summer emerges with unusually high temperatures while the rainy season persists. The lack of rainfall is depleting water reserves to critical levels in many cities, including La Paz, while in the Altiplano, a plateau in the middle of the Andes mountain range, farmers organize pilgrimages to the hills to start prayers and ask for rain. We do.

Coña Coña west of Cochabamba was a lagoon where birds nested and boating was possible. According to the testimonies of local people, over the past three years, the water mirror has completely evaporated, the slopes of the hills no longer reach it and only ragged clay and yellowed reeds remain. “The lagoon is dead, I don’t think it will recover,” says a parishioner who jogged along the banks.

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Further into the city centre, the Alale Lagoon, which at other times covered 175 hectares, breaks out in a broth of green and foul-smelling water. Algae, growing like the plague, are winning over the rare layer of water that resists. Fernando Huanca, a neighbor recalls that this lagoon was a resting place for flamingos and other migratory birds. “I came to observe the flamingos,” he says. No bird was seen today. The lagoon is also dying because many of the sewage from the surrounding areas contaminate it.

“The danger is that it becomes an open sewer,” acknowledged Elvis Gutierrez, environment secretary for the city’s municipal government. “The rains nourish the lagoon and earlier, people used to bathe and wash clothes on the shore. Climate change affects the city, but also the city’s chaotic urban development and the hand of man”, says the official. The municipality plans to invest the equivalent of $5.8 million in the next months to reduce sedimentation .

According to biologist Eduardo A. Morales, evapotranspiration is one of the “multiple reasons” for the decline of the alele, which is increasing its incidence in the region of the Andean valleys. “Add to this that the lagoon is losing its recharge capacity due to problems on the slopes of hills, where green spaces have been lost due to urban expansion,” he says.

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Bolivia is one of the countries that suffers the consequences of climate change despite its low pollutant emissions, resulting in droughts, frosts, floods and melting glaciers. It also includes deforestation and urban and mining pollution, according to a United Nations Development Program study. According to that organization, the country is one of the most vulnerable to climate change due to its low adaptive capacity and high economic dependence on the extraction of raw materials such as mining.

According to the State National Institute of Statistics (INE), 70% of the population live in urban centres, poverty fuels migration and the city is under severe pressure.

According to a recent report by the Vice Ministry of Civil Defense, 47,176 families have lost crops due to climate impact so far this year, of which 11,618 have lost everything.

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