Today was a very busy day for our team. Throughout the morning we had some really great orientation sessions at CATHALAC’s headquarters, down the road from our Holiday Inn.
The weather has been quite nice so far actually: scattered showers, but not quite the torrential downpour that I was expecting.
We met Zvia Danon, CATHALAC’s manager of their education division and one of the major coordinators of this program. For the first few sessions, our team was given a brief introduction to CATHALAC and its many roles in Panama and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. We also discussed some of our expectations for the program and any concerns we might have.
In a later session, we learned more of the specifics of what our research will actually involve and the impacts we will have on the local communities near Santa Fe. The opportunity that I am most excited about is how our data can potentially be used to aid JAARs, or Administrative Boards of Local Aqueducts. JAARs manage water resources and usage in these communities, making sure that everyone in the community has enough water and pays their fees. JAARs have become increasingly important as the country tries to recover from an extended dry season that has caused droughts in many areas.
Unfortunately, less that 10% of JAARs in Panama have been officially legalized. With recent Panamanian elections, regulations for the legalization of JAARs have become more strict. Many of these organizations will need assistance if they are to be able to serve their communities fully, and it seems possible that our data from hydrology research within the Santa Maria watershed may prove useful to this end.
This concludes my summary of Day 2 of our journey up until about 10:30 this morning! Unfortunately, I have to pack my things and get some rest, because we hit the road early tomorrow morning to travel to Santa Fe, so I will finish documenting the rest of our adventures from today on the bus ride tomorrow. Next post(s?): Climate Change in Latin America, the Panama Canal, and food!
Also coming soon: the Hector Gallego Foundation, Arrival at Santa Fe, and more travel adventures!