Three weeks of record-setting rains have caused floods affecting more than 40,000 people in the Chaco region of Paraguay.
The majority of those affected are those living in indigenous communities, many of whom have seen their livelihoods destroyed due to the loss of animals and crops. Others are facing difficulties because the affected areas are isolated, and accessible roads have been cut off.
The floods have prompted the Paraguayan government to declare a 90-day state of emergency; an official emergency response is being coordinated focusing on urgent evacuation and rescue work, as well as providing emergency assistance to flooded communities.
The region most affected is located on the Pilcomayo River, which has burst its banks, flooding communities of more than 5,000 indigenous and non-indigenous families who live and depend on the river for their livelihoods.
These families live in conditions of dire poverty. As a result of the flooding these communities have lost access not only to food sources but also to crops and livestock needed to earn income. Estate, farm and urban workers have also lost their jobs.
"It is clear that this flooding will have a serious impact on the livelihoods and food security of indigenous communities for months, if not years, to come," said CWS staff based in the region.
CWS works with indigenous communities in the region through its Chaco program, which includes a focus on ending hunger and promoting sustainable community development.
CWS's emergency response in the region will build on that experience. CWS is working with several partners, including Mingara and fellow ACT Alliance member, Comité de Iglesias para Ayudas de Emergencia (the Committee of Churches for Emergency Aid), to coordinate a response.
An assessment with local leaders is being carried out in order to identify current needs and priorities. CWS is likely to issue an appeal for this response once more information about specific needs is known.
How to help:
Financial contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts around the world may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.
ACT Alliance Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.