Bolivia: High Energy Biscuits: "Making Life a Little Easier"
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Published on 1 April 2014

Girls from Cachuela Mamoré community enjoying High Energy Biscuits, distributed by WFP.  WFP/Ximena Loza

There are 33 families in the community of Cachuela Mamoré that are seeking refuge on the highways during this overwhelming flood season. In collaboration with the Civil Defence, WFP has delivered 30 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits (HEB) to this community as well as 37 others in the municipality of Guayaramerín, and a total of 143 communities have received High Energy Biscuits within the department of Beni, as an initial emergency response to the flooding affecting most of Bolivia. Many of the roads are inaccessible, WFP has had to deliver assistance by inland waterways. 

“The High Energy Biscuits are making our lives a little easier for us women…because we are the ones that bear the worst brunt of a flood: it is the women who are responsible to build the shelter, feed the family, gather firewood, and find water”, expressed Cachuela Mamoré native Flora Aracupa, 65. Over the past 10 days Flora and many others like her have had to watch as the mass of water slowly but surely seizes their homes and swallows their land on the boarder of the Mamoré River.  “We have been struggling to salvage our belongings, build these shelters and makeshift beds…there were a couple of days where we survived solely off of the High Energy Biscuits”, reports Flora when expressing the relief that the HEBs brought because they are ready to eat and have the necessary nutrients to sustain the people during these tough times. “Cooking is difficult, there is no wood, everything is wet, and to find firewood we have to walk far up the mountains. Finding water is also a task…we have vessels that collect rain water but if there is no rainfall, we have to use the water from the rivers", she says referring to the growing river that is now just feet away from her makeshift home. 

Getting by with what was Salvaged  
Community leader, Marlene Bouchabki accounts the damage; they lost chickens, ducks, and pigs…as well as 100% of their production of banana, plantain, maize, cassava, and rice. “We can now cut the banana trees from the canoes…before we would have to climb almost two meters”, Marlene illustrates with her words the magnitude of the flood, which is nothing like anything the community members have seen before. “We are eating what little we could save, a few bananas and plantains, the cassavas are rotten…WFP has brought us food, among the food are the High Energy Biscuits, sweet and savoury, a delicacy in these times of crisis. Before the floods we were barely making ends meet- not living- imagine how we are now, expressed Marlene with tears in her eyes. 

The Desire to Rebuild 
The worst is still yet to come for these communities affected by this devastating attack by nature, yet they are hopeful. “We hope to rebuild, we want your (WFP) help, nobody here wants to give up hope, even though we are in the mud…this is fertile land, and we want to rebuild,” says Marlene as she wipes tears from her face. “We will need seeds to plant again and food to hold us over until the next harvest...we will need a year, the cassavas and bananas take at least a year to grow; the maize and rice about 6 to 8 months…There is so much work to be done before we can begin farming again”, says Marlene. No family wants to abandon the town, but they do require support and assistance to revive their community. Marlene, determined to revive her community once waters recede in a couple of months, calls upon WFP, hopeful for a speedy reunion to lift their community out of the rubble. 

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About the author

Ximena Loza

Public Information Officer

Ximena Loza has been a Public Information officer for WFP in South America since 2000. She has a masters degree in gender and development.