/* Typekit */

Ngobe-Bugle Water System Renovations

Requesting $25,000 from our Donors

Total Project Cost: $45,000

Project Location: Comarca Ngobe-Bugle and Bocas del Toro, Panama

Program Background

The Ngöbe-Buglé people are Panama’s largest indigenous group, comprised of 260,000 Ngöbes and 25,000 Buglé.  Most people live in the protected reserve, the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé. A portion of the population live outside of the boundaries of the Comarca in the adjacent provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, and Veraguas. The Ngöbe-Buglé communities are scattered along the forested boundaries in undeveloped tracts of land where they live on subsistence agriculture.

Since 2002, WEFTA has worked with Waterlines, the sister organization of WEFTA, to assist these communities with improvement of their water supplies and their community capacity to manage the piped water resource. Many of these indigenous communities have applied for and received funding to construct piped water systems. They have also received training from our Circuit Riders on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) management.

Community Background 

The communities of Alto Mann Creek, Calante, Kwite, Quebrada Pastor, and Barriada Polverine are primarily comprised of the Ngobe people living in the Comarca and Bocas del Toro regions of Panama. WEFTA and Waterlines along with support from the US Peace Corps have assisted these communities in improving their WASH resources.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Concerns 

Based off our most recent post construction follow-up trip in early 2020, we found that the populations in each of these five communities have grown to exceed the supply of the water systems. Water committee members are struggling to provide water to the community households, schools, and health clinics.  In some areas, there are so many users on the system that water does not get delivered to all the connections.

The challenge of community growth is magnified during the dry season when the protected spring water sources diminish. Additionally, although the members of the community have done a great job with system operation and maintenance, many components of the water system infrastructure are aging and in need of repair or replacement.

Proposed Project 

Our Trip Report compiled from a recent visit to all the sites by WEFTA volunteers details the individual needs of each of the five Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous communities. The proposed water system improvements and renovations generally include increasing source and storage capacity including:

  • construction of additional spring boxes
  • repair, replacement, or construction of additional water storage tanks
  • installation or replacement of additional taps, to serve new households

Sustainability Considerations

The local water committees and community members will continue their training on proper operation and maintenance of the system put in place to ensure sustainability. WEFTA volunteers and circuit riders will make annual visits to the five communities for post construction follow-up.

Community Engagement

In addition to water committee training and community WASH education, the communities will contribute more than 25% of the project cost in labor and local materials. The local government will provide material transport. 

WEFTA Volunteers

WEFTA will donate engineering and post-construction follow-up to this project equating to 15% of the total project cost.

If you would like additional information about this project, please contact us.

Donate today!

Poverty levels are
above 70%
in the indigenous areas of Panama, known as comarcas.

High rates of poverty translates to low levels of access to basic resources such as adequate clean water and sanitation.

Our commitment is to the long-term success of the projects we’re involved with and it doesn’t stop when construction is complete.

Water & Health

Since 2002, WEFTA has been connecting donors, engineers, and communities in Latin America and Africa, all with the common goal of ensuring access to clean drinking water for everyone.

Sanitation & Environment

WEFTA engineers help communities make sound decisions and facilitate the dialog leading to the development of solutions for inadequate sewage treatment, and its associated environmental impacts. 

Development & Sustainability 

WEFTA volunteers work with the communities we partner with to develop the local skills needed to maintain and manage the water and wastewater systems constructed.