With over 100 Colombians killed and 90,000 families affected by heavy rains, government agencies and local municipalities battle to establish who is responsible for the emergencies.
In particular, government agencies have denied accusations – including from Bogota‘s mayor Clara Lopez – of failing to take adequate measures to prevent the flooding. Government environmental agency CAR have in turn pointed to Colombia’s Institute for Urban Development, stating they were made aware by CAR of the potential for flooding in the area around Bogotá River, and advised to relocate major roadways to higher ground.
Deputy Director of CAR, Javier Palacio, told Colombia’s W Radio that precautions were taken to control the river level and avoid flooding, including dams that have prevented much worse flooding than is currently being seen. Governmental environment advisory committee Colombia Humanitaria have further pointed to the $500 million invested in 4,000 operations around the country since last year’s floods.
However, according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, only 682 of these projects have been implemented to date. Further, independent national and international environmental experts claim that the solution to the heavy flooding seen in recent years must go beyond such relief work, and include longer-term projects, such as relocating riverside settlements around Bogotá River due to expansion of the river basin as a result of climate change.
The government is responding to such recommendations with its National Adaptation Plan, currently under design, which outlines plans including purchasing land to be used as flood areas. For the time being however, Palacio has stated that Colombians must “learn to live with” such heavy rains due to unstable weather patterns, and that “now was not a time for blame”.