Waiting for water

Yuri Segalerba

It used to be Bolivia’s second largest lake but now, it’s a white salt flat sprinkled with abandoned rusty boats.

Fish, birds, and other animals are not the only victims of this ecological disaster. The Uros and the Aymaras, two indigenous communities settled around Lake Poopo as fisherfolk for many generations, are no longer able to make a living from fishing.

Most of them have left their villages for the bigger cities, to begin a new life as builders, miners, or in other manual trades; some are still living on the lake in half-abandoned villages; they have switched to cultivating quinoa and stockbreeding llamas.

Others are waiting for the water to come back. It’s not the first time in their life that they’ve seen the lake vanish; but in recent years the droughts have become longer and people are beginning to lose trust.