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Outline of the Project

Name of the Project

Project for Participatory Community Development and Integrated Management of the Alhajuela Lake Subwatershed

Counterpart country

Republic of Panama

Date of signing the agreement

August 1, 2006

Project Site

Alhajuela Lake sub-watershed inside the Chagres National Park

Period of Cooperation

August 1, 2006 – July 31, 2011


National Environmental Authority (ANAM) of Panama


The Chagres River watershed, which includes Alhajuela Lake, is located to the east of the Panama Canal. This watershed plays an important role in insuring a stable water flow that is necessary for the transiting of ships through the Canal. At the same time, it is an important source of water for human consumption and industrial use serving more than 1.5 million people in the capital city and surrounding areas. Furthermore, it is also an important nature reserve from a global perspective due to its great biodiversity. Unfortunately, this area is being impacted by deforestation and soil degradation caused by various factors including population growth, expansion of agricultural and livestock farmland, extensive farming techniques that include slash-and-burn methods. This situation is threatening the area’s inherent function, which is to replenish the water supply.

In 1975, the Panamanian government designated 40% of the eastern basin of the Panama Canal as the Chagres National Park, and since then has been making great effort to conserve the Park’s natural environment. However, there are still inhabitants inside the Park who have been living there since before the area was established as a National Park, and who continue to practice their farming activities including the practice of slash-and-burn methods. The Panamanian government, through its National Environmental Authority (ANAM, Spanish acronym), has restricted the local communities from cutting trees and burning the land. This had incited the opposition of the inhabitants and had prevented any significant advances in environmental conservation of the area. Under such circumstances, it is of utmost importance to transfer environmentally friendly farming techniques, which would allow the conservation of the natural environment as well as the improvement of the quality of life of the local communities.

Under this context, the Panamanian government requested a technical cooperation project from the Japanese government with the objective to “establish a mechanism whereby the conservation of the eastern sub-watershed of the Panama Canal could be harmonized with farming and forest production.” The purpose of this Project is to “harmonize watershed conservation with the productive activities of the inhabitants,” and at the same time “to create a self-sustainable mechanism to give technical assistance, in other words, the systematization of ANAM’s extension service.” In practical terms, the Project is assisting ANAM in establishing an institutional system to train extension workers and to administer the planning, implementation and monitoring of its extension service in an autonomous manner. In this way, the techniques that were transferred to certain “points” by a few extension workers could be spread horizontally “throughout the area.”

Furthermore, this Project incorporates the results of activities(*1) that “harmonize watershed conservation with the productive activities of the inhabitants” from a technical cooperation project that had been implemented in the western upper-watershed of the Panama Canal. That Project was called the Project for the Conservation of the Panama Canal Watershed (hereafter, PROCCAPA) and was carried out from October 2000 to September 2005.

*1 On the basis of creating relationships of trust between the government and the inhabitants, PROCCAPA organized the farmers using participatory methods and established environmentally friendly farming techniques, such as agroforestry, contour planting and rice paddies. These techniques were transferred to the extension workers. At present, the area’s inhabitants continue to use these environmentally friendly techniques by their own initiative and in a sustainable manner.

Objetives of the Project

Overall Goal: Environment friendly and sustainable production is practiced in middle and lower watersheds of Alhajuela Lake.

Project Purpose: Sustainable production techniques implemented using environment friendly and participatory methods are practiced by the established group members through the extension system of ANAM.


  1. Self-active groups are organized by the participatory manners with gender equality.
  2. The group members are skilled in environment friendly production techniques.
  3. Farmland-use plans (*2) that contribute to the territorial ordering of the watershed and the conservation of the Chagres National Park are elaborated and in process of implementation by the members of the groups.
  4. The forest coverage for soil restoration in critical areas and important areas in common interest of group members and related authorities, are increased by the members of the groups.
  5. Extension service in line with the needs of group members and the related policies is provided by extension members (*3).
  6. The community members are conscious of the importance of the appropriate use of natural resources and environmental conservation in the Project area.

*2: The farmland-use plan includes activities for planting trees, which are implemented in Output 4.

*3: Besides the extension workers assigned by this Project, it is assumed that extension members could consist of park rangers and leaders of farmers. This will be defined in activity 5-1.


1-1Identify and select the communities.
1-2Hold promotion meetings.
1-3Organize or reorganize the groups.
1-4Establish the place for the development of the group's activities.
1-5Carry out activities for the strengthening of the groups.
1-6Apply for the funds and/or assistance of other organizations.
2-1Conduct field trips to demonstration plots.
2-2Carry out training on topics of interest related to environment-friendly production techniques.
2-3Carry out farmer-to-farmer exchange among the groups.
2-4Validate techniques learned in plots established with the group's work and the extension service.
3-1Carry out market research.
3-2Carry out trainings on the elaboration of farmland-use plans.
3-3Elaborate the farmland-use plan in harmony with the effective registration. (*4)
3-4Implement the farmland-use plan with the support of the extension service from extension team.
3-5Monitor the implementation of the farmland-use plan.
4-1Select critical areas of common interest areas of group members and related authorities for soil restoration.
4-2Carry out training in silviculture.
4-3Select species to be planted.
4-4Establish group nurseries.
4-5Plant the trees in the selected areas.
4-6Maintain reforested areas.
5-1Design an extension system with consideration of the role of ANAM.
5-2Elaborate a training plan for extension team, which meet the group's needs.
5-3Implement the annual theory-practice training plan for the extension members.
5-4Elaborate an action plan for the extension teams to provide the extension service.
5-5Provide the extension service to group members.
5-6Exchange techniques with other projects.
5-7Compile knowledge and technique of extension service learnt through 5-2 to 5-6 into an extension guidebook for the extension members, based on the extension system designed in 5-1.
5-8Elaborate a sustainable training plan for new extension team by utilizing the guidebook.
5-9Provide the extension service in accordance with the extension guidebook.
5-10Review the extension system upon the results if necessary, and established the extension system through 5-1 to 5-9.
6-1Elaborate an action plan for environmental education.
6-2Prepare and/or procure materials for environmental education.
6-3Implement the action plan for environmental education.
6-4Facilitate the establishment of areas for the development of environmental education activities.
6-5Monitor the implementation of the action plan for environmental education and feed back the result.

*4: This refers to Law 21 and Law 41 (the fundamental environmental laws), which established the goals for land use in the Canal basin by 2020, the “legal decrees related to environmental crimes,” and the “National Park Management Plan” that establishes the guideline for the management of Chagres National Park, including the use of land inside the Park.


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