The government of Panama will invest $700 million USD to improve drinking water supply and sanitation under the National Integrated Plan of President Ricardo Martinelli.
The plan is being carried out by the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sanitation (IDAAN), the Ministry of Health and the National Council for Sustainable Development (CONADES).
“We are executing permanent solutions, not palliatives,” CONADES Executive Secretary Danna Harrick told reporters at a breakfast briefing hosted at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness on May 16. “We are planning for 20 years to reach water coverage at the national level, both in urban and rural areas.”
Panama faced a water crisis in 2012 due to natural disasters, infrastructure failures and water deficits. Rural areas were among the most impacted. Harrick said these regions had been “forgotten, left without water.”
According to local press reports, the plan will provide round-the-clock water supply to 96 percent of the population.
Data from the Comptroller General of Panama show that approximately 840,000 people do not receive 24-hour water supply. Some 600,000 lack water supply altogether.
The government said the planned projects would offer a “permanent solution” to the country’s water problems.
The projects include improvements to treatment plants, expansion of 16 treatment plants in urban areas, improvement of aqueduct networks in the cities of Santiago and Agua Dulce and construction of plants and distribution networks in the province of Bocas del Toro. The water and sanitation system in the metropolitan area of Panama City will be expanded and improved as well.
The Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) are supporting the government’s efforts.