Colón, capital of the province of the same name, lies at the entrance of the Panama Canal on the Caribbean coast. 78,000 inhabitants live in the city – 242,000 in the metropolitan area. With its international port and the Colón Free Trade Zone, it is the economic heart of the country.
That economic development, however, does not benefit everyone equally. Despite strong poverty-mitigation efforts, Panama remains an unequal society where the poorest 20% consume only 4%.
Children, young people and families need support so that they can improve their lives and stay together.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Colón.
The educational prospects of children and young people in Colón need to be improved. On average, those aged 20–24 years who live in the Colón province study for 10 years
Young people need to be given more support so that they can complete higher education. The national completion rate in Panama is 22% – however, in the Colón province, only 15% of people aged 25 to 29 have completed at least two years of higher education. This shows the lack of educational access, social progression, and professional opportunities that are available to local students.
With 2,490 kilometres of coastal land and 2 per cent of it below 5 meters, Panama is very exposed to any increase in sea level – particularly in harbours like Colón. This is one of Panama’s vulnerable areas, due to the risk of flooding of low zones.
Vulnerable populations will be the first affected by the consequences of climate change. More frequent and intense storms, floods, and droughts cause huge economic losses and affect the livelihoods of the communities with fewer resources. Children, young people and their families need extra support so they can be prepared for these crises.