Bolivia's ‘water people' face uncertain future with loss of major lifeline
Bolivia's Lake Poopo was once a fountain of life for local inhabitants, but now due to a confluence of factors, it is a desert with abandoned boats lying on cracked ground. For Indigenous communities who farmed along its banks and fished from the waters for more than a century, life has been completely upended.
Located in the high-altitude altiplano area of southwestern Bolivia, Lake Poopo sat at an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level. In 1986, the lake was at its peak, spanning nearly 1,350 square miles, making it larger than the entire state of Rhode Island.
But, according to a European Space Agency, satellite images have tracked the lake's decline, showing that Lake Poopo had "fully evaporated" seven years ago in 2015 -- a result of what scientists found is climate change and water extraction for farming and mining in the area.