Clean Water for Coastal Panama

by EcoLogic Development Fund
Community members working in the tree nursery
Community members working in the tree nursery

In the coastal towns of Punta Alegre and Puerto Lara in the Gulf of San Miguel, Panama, EcoLogic recently held a community workshop on: "Why and How to Plant Trees." The workshop highlighted the benefits of reforestation especially the reforestation of watersheds. Workshops like this allow communities to learn the process and rationale behind reforesting, and reinforce their interest in participating in the project. Through education and learning exchanges, the communities of San Miguel are learning how to preserve their watershed and improve their own well being. Our work in Panama is just another way we are connecting the dots between the health of the planet and its people.

The relationship between forest conservation and water provision is central to EcoLogic’s work in this region, as it is positioned at the very intersection of environmental conservation and meeting people’s needs. Workshops that engage people in the technical know-how as well as the real-life application of reforestation provide the communities with long-term solutions and reliable access to clean water. 


Yaira working to build a tree nursery.
Yaira working to build a tree nursery.

Yaira Allois Pino, our Program Officer for Panama, is from Santiago de Veraguas, Panama. She has experience coordinating watershed management programs in Panama and has also worked as a facilitator of Rural Participatory Diagnoses used for Municipal Development Plans. She has studied industrial engineering and is working on her thesis for a Master’s in environmental management. We asked Yaira some questions about her work and she was eager to share!

EcoLogic: When you visit our projects, what emotions do you experience?

Yaira: I really like to visit the communities and the people are very happy when we come which makes me feel good. I do feel sad at times when I hear stories of hardship from community members. For example, in Punta Alegre, they told me they went a month without electricity because the plant damaged a piece of equipment that cost a lot to repair. But, I feel pride when things go well and when people are excited to discuss with me ways in which I can help.

E: During the last year, what project or success has made you the most proud?

Y: I loved the construction of latrines because it has a big impact and gives EcoLogic credibility in the communities.

E: Who is one person in the community that inspires you and why?

Y: Ovina Hurtado, from Punta Alegre, inspires me. She’s a fighter, a retired teacher, over 60, and a leader in Punta Alegre. Although she sometimes gets discouraged with the problems in the community, she never stops trying to make a difference. She always keeps on going!

E: Why do you work for EcoLogic?

Y: It’s been a few years since I started working in the environmental field and with EcoLogic. It is very important to me because with EcoLogic, I have the opportunity to work with the communities and help teach them to protect their resources. I feel like I can make a difference in their lives and that’s why I’m committed to my work.

E: What is a recent highlight from our work?

Y: We are working on a lot of things but something I am personally excited about is working towards declaring the Gulf a protected area by the Panamanian government. I am also excited about the capacity building workshops for fisherfolk.

If you have any questions you would like to ask Yaira, please respond to this email and we will get them answered!


A nearly complete composting latrine.
A nearly complete composting latrine.

In Rio Congo, in the Gulf of San Miguel, EcoLogic recently helped to establish a Waste Commission. The Commission is comprised of nine community members and has overseen the installation of 11 composting systems and 11 can compactors. Also, the Commission has created and distributed a waste management guide to schools and public buildings while training a total of 93 villagers on proper trash disposal and composting techniques.

EcoLogic and rural communities are getting the word out and working together to establish a sustainable change in the Gulf. With your help we can continue the momentum and increase our efforts to protect communities, families, and the rich biodiversity of the Gulf through community-run waste-management systems.

Community members meeting about water management.
Community members meeting about water management.


Tree nursery in Panama
Tree nursery in Panama

EcoLogic is working with rural communities in the Gulf of San Miguel, Panama to ensure reliable access to clean, safe drinking water. EcoLogic made strides last year working with the water board of each village and holding community consultations. The consultations help EcoLogic understand what is the greatest need to the community and how best to implement sustainable solutions. Their main concerns included access to clean drinking water.

Over the past year, EcoLogic has been working with several communities in the Gulf of San Miguel, including Puerto Lara and Punta Alegre. In Puerto Lara we have established a tree nursery which has the capacity to produce 10,000 seedlings a year for enriching and repopulating the nearby microwatershed. In Punta Alegre - a village that has existed for over 100 years without access to clean, reliable drinking water – the community came together and identified a location to build an aqueduct.

Doña Ovina Hurtado, a community leader from the region said, “[This work] is important because EcoLogic is motivating us to obtain clean water. It has opened our eyes, so that we are more cautious and we do not damage our environment. Aside from EcoLogic, we were abandoned, like all the governments have done.”

With your help we can continue to protect the health of communities and ecosystems in the Gulf of San Miguel.

Community members reforesting.
Community members reforesting.

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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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