Clean Water for Coastal Panama

by EcoLogic Development Fund
Fishing the Congo
Fishing the Congo

EcoLogic works in the Gulf of San Miguel region of Panama, located in the southern most Darien Province.  Here, the poor water quality is negatively impacting human and animal life. The central purpose of this project is to protect the aquatic resources of the Gulf of San Miguel, while improving the lives of local people. It is because of the generosity of people like you, who have contributed to our work in Panama, that we have been able to make progress in this extremely remote region. During the past several months, EcoLogic has strengthened its relationship with the communities and begun collaborating with the Group for Environmental Education and Sustainable Management (GEMAS), a non-profit organization that works to protect the natural resources in the Gulf of San Miguel and specializes in sustainable fisheries.

Currently, GEMAS is working with EcoLogic to monitor the amount of fish that is being extracted in the communities of Punta Alegre, Congo River, and La Puntita. We hired a technician who has been monitoring the fishing activities in the area over the past several months and will continue to collect data until December of this year. With this information, we will be better equipped to advise the communities on where to make changes in their fishing practices so that they are fishing in a more sustainable manner. In addition, EcoLogic coordinated four fishing workshops, two in Congo River and two in Punta Alegre. The workshops focused  on "Sustainable Fishing" and "Fishing Gear and Methods," A total of 18 people in Punta Alegre and 12 in Congo River, respectively, participated in the workshops and  the enthusiasm of the fishermen was exceptional.

Thanks to the support of our donors, the communities have reforested eight hectares of degraded watershed and purchased all the materials necessary for the construction of a community nursery in Puerto Lara where 10,000 seedlings were sown. EcoLogic also established four pilot agroforestry plots and conducted additional workshops on topics such as, "The Proper Establishment of Agroforestry Plots" and "How and Why Plant Trees".

This year, with your help, EcoLogic plans to: (a) improve waste management practices and health and sanitation through waste management plans and dry composting latrines, (b) strengthen the protection of local fisheries through facilitating a community-led plan for the development of a protected area, and (c) protect the health of the rivers and watersheds through establishing micro-watershed management plans. 

In these areas of concentration, EcoLogic will implement activities ranging from, but not limited to: leading educational workshops for local communities about waste management, building pilot latrines, and leading meetings with community water boards in the area. 

The issues presented are central to the work in the region carried out by EcoLogic, which empowers the people in the community to be able to sustain themselves in the long-term and grants them access to pure and clean natural resources for years to come. 


We thank you for your continued support in this fight for clean water and a sustainable future.


In the Gulf of San Miguel, located on the Pacific coast of Panama's remote Darien region, this naturally rich and diverse landscape features mangrove forests, flowing rivers, and abundant wildlife—and is called home by many indigenous cultures.

It is hard to believe that even with this wealth of natural resources and beauty, Darien is one of the poorest regions in Panama.

For Eric and Manuel, two fishermen from the Congo River community in San Miguel, fishing is how they sustain themselves and their families. Their story however, is one of daily struggle. Fish and marine life are in decline because of environmental degradation and contamination from raw sewage. 

Panama may seem far from where you live, but it’s actually just a short distance in the work of sustaining our planet and its people.

The mangroves of the Gulf of San Miguel provide protection from storm surges, high winds, erosion, and marine pollution. These trees also serve as critical habitat to a wide diversity of fish, crab, and shrimp on which local people depend for food and their economy.

Plus, the mangroves of San Miguel are important habitat for many species that we in the US also know and appreciate including birds, and sea turtles that migrate between the two countries.

In the Gulf, EcoLogic is not only working to protect Eric and Manuel’s livelihood, and the livelihoods of many other people and communities in the region, but also to strengthen the connection we have to each other.

With your support EcoLogic is:

Training leaders and members of the consolidated fishing organization to increase the scope and use of sustainable fishing practices and generate more income for its members.

Improve waste management in coastal communities and strengthen local capacity for the conservation of water resources. Identify and restore watersheds and other critical habitat.

Participate in a formal request to the national government to declare a protected area in the Gulf of San Miguel, bringing needed support and protection to the area.

With your help, EcoLogic is working to make connections between water, land, and people, but it is you who make these connections possible and we thank you for your commitment.

Gulf of San Miguel
Gulf of San Miguel

The Gulf of San Miguel contains 17 percent of all the mangroves found in Panama and thus is an important nursery habitat and home to marine and fish life critical to the ocean ecosystem and to the artisan fisheries of the area. Poor sewage and solid waste management, unsustainable fishing practices, deforestation, and poaching are some of the problems adversely affecting the gulf. EcoLogic partners with five local communities to strengthen local fishing organizations, provide low impact fishing gear, improve alternative livelihood opportunities, and advocate for the establishment of a federally protected zone within the gulf.

In the past few months, EcoLogic has realized several activities in support of our goals towards a "Healthy Gulf". We have hired a local technician to gather and analyze information on a monthly basis about fish catch by local fisherfolk. In additon, we provided training on how to maintain a record of the type and quantity of fish and marine products – noting species and poundage – fishermen are harvesting from the gulf. This will help us form a baseline in combating the problem of mismanagemnt of the fisheries. We have also provided trainings to three fisherfolk associations in fisheries law and sustainable fishing practices. 

We  continue to carry-out waste managment plans in partnership with the comunities and are working with the local people to reforest degraded areas as well as implement agroforestry as a overall holistic approach to our conservation efforts. The construction of a tree nursery is nearly completed and will hold 10,000 trees for reforestation and agroforestry. Finally, with help from our generous supporters, we have been able to purchase a vehicle so that these communities can properly dispose of waste instead of dumping it into the water or on the beaches.

Thank you for your help. However, there is so much more to do, I hope you will continue to support these efforts in the months to come. 


Local fisherman prepares for the day
Local fisherman prepares for the day's catch
Yaira holding a workshop in the Darien, Panama
Yaira holding a workshop in the Darien, Panama

Trash is hitting the road in the remote Darien region of Panama.

Recently, EcoLogic’s Program Officer for Panama, Yaira Allois, was in the Darien continuing to support and aid in the implementation of waste management plans that we helped the communities develop last year. Yaira conducted three workshops for community members with topics ranging from “Solid Waste Management at Home,” to “Crafting with Recycled Materials.”

Our work with these communities also involves promoting reforestation in degraded areas. In support of that effort, the town of Punta Lara is currently in the early stages of constructing a tree nursery. The nursery will house 10,000 seedlings and will be maintained in partnership with the School of Puerto Lara and Panama’s National Environmental Authority.

EcoLogic is working with communities to secure a sustainable, reliable future for their families. 

Thanks for your support!

Proudly wearing hand-made jewelry.
Proudly wearing hand-made jewelry.

In the remote area of rural Panama, communities are making good use of the motto “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”  Working with local volunteers, EcoLogic has held workshops centered on composting, solid waste management, and sanitation. These workshops are just part of the waste management plan that includes the construction of composting latrines, and a Waste Commission that has created and distributed a waste management guide for schools and public buildings.

Community participation has been high, especially with younger children. Such high youth involvement has prompted the creation of an additional workshop focused on crafting. Youth are learning how to repurpose old soda cans, bottles, and other trash that would be otherwise discarded. Their creations include Christmas ornaments, and standalone pieces of art.

By offering communities a variety of workshops, EcoLogic is proving a holistic solution to waste management. Through education, the communities of San Miguel are learning how to preserve their land, allow for a safe avenue to properly dispose of waste, and improve their own well-being. 

Making jewelry from repurposed trash
Making jewelry from repurposed trash
Trash build up before the project
Trash build up before the project



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Organization Information

EcoLogic Development Fund

Location: Cambridge, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Alexa Piacenza
Program Associate
Cambridge, MA United States

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