Bolivia: Forest Fires - Emergency Plan of Action DREF N° MDRBO013, Operations Update no. 1


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

In early August, a rapidly spreading forest fire started in the department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia. 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 affected as of 10 October 2019. On 17 August, the Santa Cruz departmental government issued a decree to mobilize human, technical and logistic resources to fight the forest fire.

Because 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 have caused progressive negative impacts on the population and affected areas. Given the acceleration of negative impacts to the population, Bolivian Red Cross (BRC), with IFRC's support, conducted a rapid assessment focused on the fires’ impact at the community level, which was followed by the implementation of the current DREF operation. As part of this operation, two members of the Regional Intervention Team (RIT), the Disaster Management Coordinator for the Americas and the Cash-Based Intervention Coordinator were deployed to Bolivia.

Hot spots in 18 municipalities are currently under control thanks to arduous efforts by fire-fighting teams, volunteer fire-fighters and foreign assistance. In addition, the rains that fell in fire-affected areas helped to control several of the former hot spots.

Following the declaration of the results of the 20 October 2019 presidential elections, the country is experiencing social unrest. This situation has made it difficult to implement actions within the expected time period. All operational activities were suspended to protect the BRC response team and the target population, as well as due to the difficulty to travel between locations in the country.