After intense rain, flooding in Paraguay has destroyed crops, destroyed homes, and blocked roads. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated so far, most of which are sleeping in improvised tents and makeshift settlements. Those most affected by the flooding are people living near the Paraguay and Paraná Rivers. The National Secretariat for Emergencies estimates that the level of the Paraguay River is likely to rise by another 3 inches in the next week.

President Horacio Cartes expresses his concern for his citizens and his determination to support everyone, saying, “We won’t be happy or satisfied as long as we’re going through this situation.”

The Paraguayan government has spent more than 3 million on food aid to assist the people affected by the flood.

Governor Carlos Silva stated Friday that the United Nations and Red Cross experts have evaluated the situation, and the International Federation for the Red Cross has already dedicated 275,000 Swiss francs through their Disaster Relief Emergency fund. The governor believes that aid from other countries will be sent soon as well.

The flooding in Paraguay has also affected Brazil and northern Argentina. In Brazil, 11 people have already died, and 560,000 people have been affected in some way. In North Argentina, in the province of Misiones especially, roads and bridges have been damaged, and thousands have been cut off from the rest of the world. In both locations the heavy rainfall is expected to continue.

In this particular region of South America, flooding is frequent, and similar intense flooding happened just last year, lasting for almost 2 months. In central and southern Chile, although a bit further away from the other region, is also being negatively affected by flooding

Flooding has become all too common in recent years, and scientists believe it is due to rising sea levels from global climate change. When sea levels rise globally, areas with rivers are more susceptible to flooding.

Although people in developing countries carry a smaller carbon footprint than those in developed ones, flooding and other natural disasters negatively affect the poor at a higher and more dangerous rate.

The lower quality of infrastructure, inadequate health care and the inability to recover from unexpected situations result in a similar disaster affecting the poor much more severely than the rich. In 1998, when Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras, poor households lost 15%-20% of their assets, while the richer population only lost about 3%.

Another way flooding effects poor areas unequally is through the economy afterwards. In poorer populations, citizens rely on farming and tourism as two main sources of income. With massive amounts of flooding, both are likely to be damaged.

The flooding in Paraguay is expected to continue throughout this next week, and the full damage of the floods will not be known until it completely stops.

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: BBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, Floodlist, The Nature Conservancy, The Economist
Photo: Plus America