Sogginess Is Expensive for Colombia

Flooding in Cali, Colombia

February 2012

Lately, life in Colombia resembles fiction more than anything else. That is foreboding considering that its literature, when not whispering about love, is strewn with scenes of political violence and the wrath of nature. This time the imagery leans more toward the latter.

Flooding that followed the Niña, a series of Pacific warm weather patterns that agitate Colombia’s wet season, caused mudslides, eroded farmland, and left a painful proportion of the country homeless.

What is worrisome is that the damage looks worse than it was last year, where costs associated with the flood stung at the touch of $5.1 billion or 2% of Colombia’s GDP. But it might not be as much of a burden to clean up. One reason the costs will not climb that high this year, according to analysts, is because after the 2010 floods, the Colombian government decided to set aside $850m for over 4,000 government led projects that intended to corral the chaos expected out of the following wet season. Seems like a good preventative step, doesn’t it?

That is how the floods are viewed from Bogotá’s perspective.  But the wrath brought on by the floods is still a very immediate threat to the real time cash flow of workers and businesses.

For the herders whose cattle are stranded while trying to graze in standing water, and for the truck drivers who cannot meet their shipping partners because the road linking them to the port city of Buenaventura is being diced up by mudslides and washouts, the costs are sure to keep feeling suffocating.