WMO on Tri-national UN Mission to the Gran Chaco in South America

The WMO Regional Office for the Americas (RAM), based Paraguay, is participating in United Nations-led efforts to increase the visibility of its agencies in the Gran Chaco region of South America. The Analysis and Recommendations for a transboundary and tri-national approach to the Gran Chaco Americano, prepared by the UN Resident Coordinators in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, found that the presence and visibility of several agencies in the region was very low or non-existent. WMO is among the UN system agencies that lack visibility in this region, despite the fact that its work is of crucial importance in helping to address many challenges faced by the diverse populations in this vast geographical area of South America. Gran Chaco is highly vulnerable to human-induced disturbances such as land-use change and climate change, it is thus important to increase awareness WMO activities and services.


Gran Chaco is a transboundary plain of approximately 1.1 million square kilometres (km2). Some 55% of its territory belongs to Argentina, 25% to Bolivia, 5% to Brazil and 20% to Paraguay. One of the last agricultural frontiers in South America, it is sparsely populated by indigenous people who live in highly vulnerable conditions. The region is arid, water is a very scarce commodity. There is very little infrastructure as the region’s vegetation forms a dense, thorny forest that is difficult to access. Land-use changes and climate change are diminishing the region’s biodiversity and limiting opportunities for the local indigenous communities whose way of life is based on the natural eco-system.

Prior to the RAM’s participation in the UN mission to Gran Chaco from 14 to 16 November, explanatory material was developed summarizing the climatological and meteorological aspects of the ongoing drought in the region. The material also provided information on the role of the region’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), which collaborate within the Regional Climate Centre for Southern South America (CRC-SAS). The role of the Drought Information System for Southern South America (SISSA) – for regional planning to mitigate damages, to increase resilience and to reduce the vulnerability of populations – was also highlighted.

During the mission, several meetings were held in the city of Filadelfia and other places in the Chaco with various actors: UN Country Teams, diplomatic corps, World Bank representatives, governors, regional and municipal authorities, private sector, and indigenous leaders. Presentations by RAM staff – Andres Orias Bleichner, Bárbara Tapia and Raul Polato – introduced WMO and its activities in the region, stimulating interest from various stakeholders.

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