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Description of the disaster
In early August, a forest fire started in the department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia, which has increased the sources of accelerated burning. According to the most recent OCHA report (2 September 2019)1 on the fires, a total of 1,917 families in 18 municipalities in Santa Cruz department have been affected and 521,000 hectares of forest and 726,000 hectares of grassland have been damaged. On 17 August, the Santa Cruz departmental government issued a decree to mobilize human, technical and logistical resources to address the forest fire.
As the Government of Bolivia has requested assistance in fighting the fires, which is the current priority for the State, an emergency declaration was not issued. The forest fires have slowly developed and have caused progressive negative impacts to the population in the affected areas. Facing an acceleration of negative consequences for people, the IFRC mobilized a Regional Intervention Team (RIT) member to work with the Bolivian Red Cross (BRC) to conduct a rapid assessment focused on the community-level impacts of the fires. The trigger date of 28 August 2019 refers to the identification of humanitarian needs at the community level that are not being reached and for which the Red Cross, in complement to other humanitarian actors and the State, can provide during the emergency and recovery phases.
Reactivation of hot spots in some municipalities, particularly those in rural areas, has hindered the ability to control and curb the extension of the fires. In this context, the population faces challenges to engage in their habitual daily actions, cope with the emergency and protect their homes, crops, livestock while aiming to prevent the advance of the fire.
With the current continuation of the fires, the Government of Bolivia is focused on addressing and extinguishing the hot spots. The Government of Bolivia has mobilized 4,200 people from State ministries, armed forces, police, firefighters, volunteers and other organizations, as well as the communities themselves. The Bolivian Red Cross, as part of the government-led actions, is contributing to the response to this emergency in the affected areas. Upon an unofficial government request, the BRC is receiving domestic donations for the affected population.
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