Imagine that instead of turning on the faucet to wash your hands or to serve yourself a glass with water, you had to wait until it rained.
That was a daily reality for thousands of residents of Colon, Panama’s second-largest city. They had to collect rain water or travel to distant standpipes to satisfy their basic hygiene or food preparation needs. In the best of cases, a plentiful flow of water sometimes reached the houses. In the worst, there was no access to the vital liquid.
In response to this situation, the Metro Agua Project was implemented. It was an initiative of the National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage Systems (IDAAN, in Spanish) supported by the World Bank to modernize potable water and sanitation services of Colon, where much of the piped water system was built in the 1900s and generated losses of up to 60 percent of the water supply.
Inadequate water and sanitation systems have multiply effects on society. They lead to problems associated with public health, education, the environment and opportunities for income generation. This is why the project focused on optimizing these services to improve the quality of life of individuals.
Over 150,000 people benefited from Metro Agua in Colon, an intervention that could be replicated in other Panamanian cities.
Supplying water with good pressure 24 hours a day, installing water meters and improving payment facilities were key activities of this innovative project. The project was based on a results-based contract: the contractor was partially paid in accordance with the targets and performance indicators achieved.
This video tells the story of how thousands of Panamanians were given access to water.