An intense drought that began in 2012 has been declared a disaster and national emergency by the Bolivian Government.
Our Disaster Animal Response Team has travelled to Pelechuco district in La Paz province to support the most badly affected communities. It’s here, high in the Andean mountains, where animals such as camelid, alpaca, vicuna and sheep, fundamental for livelihoods and wool production, are most at risk.
Rainfall and melting ice help maintain pastures in the mountains during the driest months, but since 2012 the rains have disappeared, leading to more than 10,000 camelid deaths. As pastures fail to recover, camelid mares are suffering abortions and disease, even before the seasonally hard months of October to December.
Families in Pelechuco rely on alpacas and llamas to survive. In normal conditions a three-year-old alpaca produces four to five pounds of wool a year. However, as a result of the drought, production has decreased to two pounds per animal with diminished quality, meaning a 300% loss in value at sale.
The situation is critical, so what are we doing about it?
Communities in Pelechuco are isolated, which means we will be providing nutritional support (40 tonnes of forage) and distributing mineral supplements (25 tonnes of mineral salts) to feed more than 30,000 animals over the next two months. Our veterinary team are also bringing with them 5,000 doses of deworming and injectable vitamins to improve animal health. We will also be training community representatives in handling and medicine administration to provide on-going care for animals.
A second stage of intervention will be the construction of 70 shelters to protect animals through the harsh months, allowing them to conserve energy and prevent deaths, especially in mares.
We anticipate 50,000 animals from 500 families to benefit from this intervention.
More updates soon.
Did you know?
- The high Andean communities of Pelechuco are strongly tied to the indigenous community, Aymara. The Ayamar raised apacas for 800 years so it's still an intrinsic part of life.
- Men are in charge of raising the livestock and women process the wool to make clothing and other accessories to sell. With this drought, however, the men are being forced to migrate and work on the gold mines or in the big cities.
- With the men away, women are increasingly taking responsibility for livestock, while also caring for their children. As a result, many children are dropping out of school to help at home.