August 17, 2018 – The LA Times (A1)
No one in the Bolivian village of Cachuela Mamore saw the flood coming.
The Mamore River, which curves along Bolivia’s wildly diverse, 2,100-mile border with Brazil, always rises during the months-long Amazonian rainy season. But the flood in 2014 was different.
Within weeks, the river had reached villagers’ doorsteps, and all 38 families — fruit farmers and fishermen, mostly — fled inland.
For the next five months they returned to their waterlogged citrus, banana and avocado orchards, which had once been their primary source of income, and plucked fruit from the low branches to scratch out a living. When the water finally receded, the fruit trees collapsed, and the native fish in the river’s stagnant waters disappeared.
Now, the families of Cachuela Mamore still live in the makeshift huts of wood, plastic tarps and corrugated metal that they cobbled together after the floods, living alongside the dirt road that connects the village to Guayaramerin, the nearest major town.
The villagers have also come to believe that it was more than just seasonal rains that caused the Mamore to crest its banks. They blame a pair of dams built downstream and worry that two more dams planned in the region could undo their lives and traditions.
Read more in the LA Times; reporting sponsored by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting