Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia schools close early as drought empties reservoirs

View of the Ajuankota water reservoir that supplies La Paz at 1% of its capacity, in La Paz, on November 21, 2016. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Ajuan Khota water reservoir, pictured, is at 1% of its capacity, and supplies the capital city

Authorities in three Bolivian regions have called an end to the school year two weeks early as the country suffers from a severe and prolonged drought.

Three reservoirs which supply the largest city, La Paz, are almost dry, and water rationing is in effect until further notice.

More than 125,000 families are thought to be affected, with some communities only receiving water every third day.

President Evo Morales declared a national state of emergency on Monday.

Image copyright Reuters

The supply is so limited that many people only have enough to drink, and cannot bathe or wash clothing.

The recently-created "water cabinet" in the country is planning to distribute water from 100 tankers in La Paz, where long queues for water have formed each day.

"We have gone more than three weeks without a water supply," Rocio Lazarte, a school director, said. "All we had for the children was the water from the hillside."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Residents are forced to queue at tankers for water

The water cabinet has also asked foreign companies for help with technical advice, the La Razon newspaper reported.

It quoted the country's defence minister, Reymi Ferreira, as saying a Korean and several European companies were providing help.

He told the newspaper that long-term projects such as the provision of wells and aqueducts, as well as diverting rivers, were being considered, but such ideas would take up to a year to implement.

President Morales has blamed the crisis on global warming, saying he had seen the dry lakes from which the country draws its water first-hand from a helicopter.

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