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The World Bank and Sanitation / Contamination in Panama Bay

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The World Bank Supports Improved Sanitation and Reduced Contamination in Panama Bay

March 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2017 – In order to improve sanitation services and reduce contamination in Panama Bay, the World Bank Board of Directors approved today a US$ 65 million loan.

More than 20,000 residents of Burunga, to the west of Panama Province, will enjoy improved access to basic sanitation services through the “Burunga Wastewater Management Project.” The financing will also contribute to building institutional capacity for managing and reducing wastewater contamination under the Panama Sanitation Program led by the country’s Ministry of Health.

 “In recent years, several communities in western Panama have experienced significant economic growth, accompanied by a population increase. With this project, which is part of our Basic Sanitation Plan 100/Zero, we will adapt and build a sewer system that covers current and future needs and demands from families living in these rapidly developing urban areas,” said Health Minister Miguel Mayo.

Nationwide, 94 percent of Panamanians have continuous access to water in their households and 72 percent have access to sanitation. Nevertheless, just 33 percent are connected to a sewer network. Only a small percentage of the collected wastewater is treated. The situation is even worse in Burunga, where only 24 percent of households are connected to a sewer system.

This project will build a sewer system in Burunga that will collect, transport and subsequently treat the wastewater that is currently dumped, untreated, into rivers and ravines that flow into Panama Bay.  The reduced contamination will favor the conservation of marine biodiversity and promote economic development through increased tourism and real estate investment in the coastal region.

 “Integrated wastewater management in the sector of Burunga will benefit populations with high poverty rates within the poorest 30 percent of urban households in Panama. Women will particularly benefit as they are responsible for childcare, cooking, cleaning and ensuring a healthy environment. Additionally, household access to the sewer system will reduce risks of becoming ill from contact with contaminated water, which causes gastrointestinal and skin ailments,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank representative in Panama.

The project has a total cost of US$ 81.2 million and includes national government funds and resources from external sources, in addition to the World Bank financing.

The US$ 65 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, one of the five institutions comprising the World Bank Group, has a maturity period of 19 years and a five-year grace period.


Washington: Marcela Sánchez-Bender, +1 (202) 473-5863, msanchezbender@worldbank.org

San José: Cynthia Flores Mora, (506) 8822-0956, cfloresmora@worldbank.org

Learn more about the work of the World Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean: www.worldbank.org/lac

News Release




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