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More than 3,500 indigenous and rural households in Panama will receive water and sanitation services

The IDB and the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean provide $7.5 million grant for water and sanitation in Panama

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a grant for $7.5 million from the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide drinking water and sanitation services to more than 3,500 rural and indigenous households in Panama.

At present, 59 percent of the population in the project area has potable water and 24 percent has sanitation services. According to 2010 estimates, these percentages are well below the national averages of 92 percent and 94.5 percent, respectively.

The program will finance 44 new potable water systems and 3,533 new sanitation solutions. In addition, technical and financial support will be provided to the Rural Water Management Boards (JAAR), which are responsible for drinking water services, and to the District Water and Sanitation Commissions (CCAS).

The Ministry of Health (MINSA) will carry out the water and sanitation investments and provide assistance to the JAARs.The program includes training more than 1,100 members of the JAARs and the district commissions in the operation, maintenance, and administration of the community systems.

MINSA’s central administration will be strengthened and potable water departments will be established in regional health offices located in the project area. These actions will help implement fees to cover operating costs and maintenance, which are essential for sustainability.

The beneficiary communities were consulted from the design stages of the project to better understand their needs. These communities will also be consulted during the execution stages, giving them a sense of ownership and empowerment of the construction works. The program will be carried out in the districts of Guna de Wargandí, Cémaco, and Sambu/EmberáWounnan, in Darien Province; the districts of Chimán and Guna de Madugandí, in the Panama Este region; and in the district of GunaYala.

When completed, the project is expected to increase potable water coverage in these areas from 59 percent to 99 percent; and of sanitation, from 24 percent to 65 percent.

The total cost of the program is $15 million, which includes $7.5 million in grant funding from the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean, and $7.5 million in counterpart funding.