Over the past six weeks, hundreds of thousands of people living in El Alto and La Paz -the world’s highest capital- have been subjected to constant water shortages and cuts, which are now reaching dangerous limits: more than 90 neighborhoods are getting water only every three days, and for three hours only. Others don’t see a drop for more than a week. And the luckier ones are getting water for two hours daily. (I know this because my extended family lives there).
The administration of President Evo Morales recently declared a state of emergency to cope with one of the worst droughts in the last 25 years. But the water situation has been deteriorating for a long time given that around 25 per cent of the water supply for La Paz and El Alto comes from the rapidly shrinking glaciers in the surrounding Andean Cordillera. Other cities around the country are also being affected by water shortages due to the climate-induced drought.
Add to that the fact that three main dams that supply water to almost two million people in the highlands are almost dry, and no longer depend on the glaciers’ runoff.