Paraguay Floods

Ayolas is inundated by the relentless flow of the Paraná

Ayolas is inundated by the relentless flow of the Paraná

The city of Ayolas is practically submerged in water, and its residents are feeling the weight of a recurring problem exacerbated by the recent rise of the Paraná River.

Families are going through a critical situation, marked by substantial material losses. “The situation is sad because there’s a lot of loss,” reports La Nacion.

The waters of the Paraná River have inundated a significant portion of Ayolas, which is one of the hardest-hit areas, along with Tavapy, Coronel Martínez, Hernandarias, Ciudad del Este, and others, following the heavy rains during the week.

About two thousand families are receiving assistance from the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN) after the recent storm that ravaged a large part of the country.



La Nacion reports that everything necessary to set up temporary shelters is being provided, and efforts are underway to secure food supplies through cooperation with other government institutions. Colonel (Ret.) Arsenio Zárate, the head of SEN, provided a detailed report on the actions taken by the secretariat to aid those whose homes have been affected by the floods, forcing them to seek refuge in elevated areas managed by local municipalities.

The President of the Republic of Paraguay, Santiago Peña, visited Ayolas on a Friday, a city deeply impacted by this natural disaster. There, he met with affected residents.


President Santiago Peña visits communities impacted by floods in Paraguay. Image Credit: Secretaria de Emergencia Nacional del Paraguay.


Rising waters in the Paraná River have already forced hundreds of families living along its banks to abandon their homes in search of safety.

The National Emergency Secretariat (SEN) has reported that it has been providing assistance to  families displaced from their homes due to the rising waters of the Paraná, Tebicuary, and Monday rivers.

SEN specifies that in Ayolas, a city in the Ñeembucú department, which is one of the most severely affected communities, the State institution have been working in coordination with the municipal mayor, Carlos Duarte, since last Thursday, reports El Independiente.

“We are working in close coordination with the governorates and municipalities without any issues. Currently, around 150 SEN personnel are actively engaged with the affected communities,” said Arsenio Zárate, the Minister of SEN.

Another affected community is San Cosme y Damián in the Itapúa department, where SEN will be constructing temporary housing for families affected by the rising Paraná River.




Ayolas finds itself nearly inundated by the relentless flow of the Paraná. President Santiago Peña made the trip to Ayolas to inspect the relief efforts being carried out by various organizations. Many of the displaced individuals sought shelter at the local Colorada Party headquarters, as reported by Vanessa Rodríguez, a correspondent from Última Hora.

The President engaged with some of the affected people during his visit, and one retired teacher, Celia Lambare, voiced her profound frustration at the enduring problem.

“With every flood, we lose everything.” She reminisced about arriving in Ayolas in 1978 and witnessing the persistent efforts of her fellow citizens to persevere.

The teacher emphasized the historical demand of the Ayolas residents: The construction of a coastal strip and a riverfront promenade.

“Our need is immense, and people are afraid to speak up. I worked as a teacher for 30 years. It pains me to see people living in tents here. It’s unfair. I plead for the needs of the people. Please, pay attention to our request,” she implored.



In response, President Santiago Peña assured that they would put “everything at their disposal” to assist the affected families and committed to making every possible effort to find a lasting solution.

He also recognized the city’s potential for development, with existing infrastructure to support it. He highlighted the significant relief efforts being carried out by the Yacyretá Binational Entity (EBY) and the Ayolas City Council.

The continuous heavy rains have caused the Paraná River to swell, displacing a total of 2,000 riverside families in the departments of Alto Paraná, Misiones, and Itapúa, according to the data from the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN).

Based on the institution’s projections, the El Niño phenomenon is expected to persist until March 2024, potentially keeping these families away from their homes for four to five months, should water levels continue to rise.

Paraná River Displaces 2,000 Families

The relentless surge of the Paraná River, triggered by heavy rains, has already uprooted a total of 2,000 families living along its banks in communities across the Alto Paraná, Misiones, and Itapúa departments, as reported by the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN).

A significant number of families have been compelled to vacate their homes due to the swelling waters of the mighty Paraná River, whose levels have escalated following the intense rainfall experienced since the past week.



“In the aftermath of these recent floods, we have 2,000 displaced families, and we are providing them assistance in coordination with the regional governments and municipalities,” confirmed Arsenio Zárate, the Minister of SEN, during an interview with Chaco Boreal 1330 AM.

By multiplying the estimated average of six members per family, we can deduce that approximately 12,000 individuals have been adversely affected by this inundation.

Zárate provided further insights, explaining that these families hail from communities in the Alto Paraná, Misiones, Itapúa, and Ñeembucú departments, all with connections to the Paraná River.

In Ayolas, where a substantial portion of the city has been submerged beneath the waters, six tents, each measuring six meters in length and ten meters in width, have been set up in coordination with the local government. Additionally, temporary housing has been erected in San Cosme and Damián to serve as shelters for those in need as reported by Ultima Hora.



According to the institution’s projections, the El Niño phenomenon is expected to persist until March 2024. Therefore, it is anticipated that these families will remain displaced from their homes for a duration of about four to five months, should the water levels of the Paraná River continue to rise.

Many families have suffered devastating losses, leaving nothing but the foundations of their homes, as reported by Zárate.

Urgent Infrastructure Needs

In an article on the flooding of Ayalas, Ultima Hora reported that the municipality lacks a drainage system. In Lambaré, there are at least 28 critical points where streets lead to streams, and most of them lack any form of protection. Furthermore, there is a complete absence of both stormwater and sewage drainage coverage.

Urban planners emphasize the decades-long inaction of drainage projects and urban planning. With each weather event, densely populated cities like Asunción and the entire metropolitan area are ill-prepared lacking protective barriers along the streams.





Gerardo Melgarejo, a fire captain, mentioned that concrete barriers are only now under construction in the area. In other areas, safety is also a concern. Avenida Argaña, just a half block from the City Hall, lacks proper railings.

“The water overflows the bridge on Avenida Argaña, takes a slight turn to the right, and ends up here in the stream. That’s why we constantly see large craters here on Santa Rosa Street,” explained the fire captain.

On another note, the Lambaré Municipal Council declared a 120-day state of emergency for both the roads and the environment. With this declaration, the mayor is empowered to allocate resources to repair areas affected by the floods that caused extensive damage.



The aftermath of the storm in the Central Department included two missing individuals swept away by the flood, flooded households, collapsed retaining walls, vehicles carried away by the torrent, and damaged asphalt layers. The architect Gonzalo Chalo Garay attributes this situation to infrastructure.

“We lack proper stormwater drainage systems, among other things. The city has expanded without any planning. There is an increasing amount of impermeable surfaces. With each rainfall, which can amount to numerous cubic meters per minute or hour, flash floods occur, wreaking havoc. It’s simply a lack of infrastructure, the unfulfilled duties of the past decades,” says the expert.

Gonzalo Garay, an urban architect, stresses that cities have grown without effective management, despite quality projects for urban improvement being developed in recent years. “A plan is worthless if it’s not managed and executed. They remain on paper because those responsible for implementation don’t prioritize them. Hence, we have decades of inaction, and well, here are the consequences.”

He expressed disappointment with the same issues reemerging after each passing storm.



Meanwhile, environmentalist Luis Recalde noted that “all the streams in the Central Department have their floodplains invaded by constructions. No council member wants to face the political cost of a permanent solution to flash floods, which inevitably involves removing these structures. As a result, we will continue to see people being swept away by the torrents.”

Drought in the Chaco

The other sobering reality facing the country is the drought afflicting communities in the Central Chaco, where rainfall has been conspicuously absent. With the support of the Paraguayan Army, SEN is transporting an additional 280,000 liters of potable water to that region.


Soledad Quartucci | CEO/Founder, Latina Republic

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