Bolivia: Forest Fires DREF Final Report (N° MDRBO013)


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

The department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia experienced a surge in forest fires since August 2019 with 10,844 outbreaks, peaking at 11,884 outbreaks in September.

Trends in the second semester of 2019 significantly exceeded those seen in the last decade1 . According to the Country Humanitarian Team reports, a total of 12,000 families in 18 municipalities and 4 million hectares of forests in the department of Santa Cruz were affected2 . On 17 August 2019, the Santa Cruz departmental government issued a decree to mobilize human, technical and logistic resources to fight the forest fire.

As the Government of Bolivia requested assistance to fight fires as a State priority, a national disaster declaration was not issued. Forest fires developed slowly and caused progressive negative impacts on the population and affected areas. Hot spots in 18 municipalities were controlled thanks to arduous efforts by fire-fighting teams, volunteer fire-fighters and foreign assistance. In addition, at the end of October the rains that fell in fire-affected areas helped to control several of the former hot spots.

The country experienced a period of social unrest following the announcement of the results of the presidential election that took place on 20 October 2019. This situation brought the operation to a standstill for almost a month due to the radicalization of protests, blockades along main roads and clashes, forcing BRC to suspend all activities to protect both the BRC response team and the target population. Activities to assist the target population resumed in December. All fire outbreaks had been extinguished by the end of the operation.