Last year I had a lot of problems accessing my study communities because of heavy rains and flooding. But they are calling this year’s flooding the worst in 14 years. Integrationville and Isolationville were cut off by flooding over three weeks ago, and a State of Emergency has been declared for the entire Chaco region as of April 13th.
Even the four new ‘more accessible’ communities I’m working in have become inaccessible as well, because the TransChaco highway (the only paved road that passes through the Chaco) has also flooded. Many of the dirt roads in the Chaco are impassable and many communities are isolated from help. Food and water have to be delivered by air to the affected areas and there is no electricity.
Yesterday (April 14th), Ultima Hora reported that the government’s priorities are evacuating people from severely affected areas and providing medical attention. It seems that a lot of people have been exposed to snake bites because of the flooding and Ultima Hora reports that three people with emergency medical conditions have died due to isolation from medical care.
ABC has a page dedicated to flooding in the Chaco where you can follow events as they unfold:
What does this mean for my project? It is unlikely I am going to get access to any of my study communities for the next while. Even if I do get access, some of my research participants have likely been displaced by the flooding and may not be so quick to return. So I need to re-think my timeline again. And I may have to go back to the U.S. and try to return to the Chaco in the summer.