Since the beginning of August 2019, the Amazon in the Santa Cruz region (eastern Bolivia) has been suffering from major fires that affect the local fauna and flora. Local families have been left without livelihoods; and also health and water sources have suffered. By August 25, more than one million hectares had been affected. To date, that area has increased to over four million square kilometers.
In view of the gravity of the fires, and at the request of Bolivia (an SDC priority country), Switzerland’s Humanitarian Aid programme joined the efforts to control the disaster as soon as possible by sending a regional team (GIAR – Rapid Intervention and Support Group), providing emergency aid to support the fire-fighters, the Bolivian government’s action, the Lima Hub (Peru) and the Swiss Embassy in Bolivia.
Since 23 August, the SDC regional team has been working in Roboré (in the Chiquitos province in the Santa Cruz department), which is the Bolivian authorities’ operations centre, supporting the national authorities in obtaining and distributing fire-fighting equipment for 200 firefighters, the army and local emergency forces.
The team, Swiss experts and Bolivia’s civil defence system set up a situation room with a Geographical Information System (GIS) to detect current fires and their trends. The system helped plan the air and land fire control more efficiently.