Panama’s economy has been among the fastest growing and best managed in Latin America in recent years, with growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) averaging over 8 percent from 2006-2011. Despite the explosive growth, development has been uneven. Most of the country’s economic activity is concentrated around the urbanized Canal Zone, an area which accounts for over 80% of the GDP and more than half of the nation’s population. However, rural areas which account for the rest of the population have not experienced the benefits of Panama’s growth. The poverty rate in these areas is about 60%, compared to just under 8% in urban areas. Disproportionately, the indigenous population bears the brunt of this disparity, with over 90% living in poverty. They lack, among other things, basic civil, electrical, mechanical, sanitary/water, and industrial infrastructure.
Concerned with the plight of Panama’s indigenous population, CH2M-Hill, a global engineering and construction firm, decided to establish a member group of Engineers Without Borders-International (EWB-I) in Panama, and supported this decision with a generous grant in early 2012. (EWB-I) is an entity that facilitates collaboration, exchange of information, and assistance among over 50 member groups spread around the world. As its new affiliate, Engineers without Borders-Panama (EWB-P),will share EWB-I values, and operate as a not-for-profit, secular, non-governmental organization. Our membership consists of experienced professionals, primarily engineers, and students from Panama’s universities.
Our mission is to collaborate with other EWB groups in the region, like-minded organizations, and sponsors to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged communities in Panama through education and implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while creating new experiences for engineers, engineering students, and similarly motivated non-engineers.
Our vision is a Panama in which the communities that we serve will develop the capacity to sustainably meet their basic human needs, through a transformative process that will also enrich our members’ global perspective from the innovative educational opportunities that our projects will provide.
Panama For Real says: These folks are serious about what they do and it’s an amazing charity full of talented individuals coming together to help provide a better life for people living outside of Panama City. We’re talking about improving the quality of drinking water, improving public sanitation, providing off-the-power-grid electric supply, building bridges so community members can safely cross rivers…the list goes on and on. To become a member, partner, or a sponsor, contact Engineers Without Borders-Panama at http://ewbpanama.org/contact-us/ or just check out their site at http://ewbpanama.org or simply give them a call at +507-263-8295.
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