More than 95% of the Indigenous population in Panama lives in poverty.



Panama, rich in multicultural communities that include people of both African and Indigenous descent, is marked by profound social and economic inequities. 95% of the Indigenous population lives in poverty (surviving on less than $2 per day), with 86% living in extreme poverty, deprived of the most basic human needs and service aids.

The Ngobe-Bugle (formerly Guaymí), the largest ethnic Indigenous group in Panama, are affected by the highest levels of poverty and extreme poverty in the country. These poverty rates are closely correlated to malnutrition amongst Panama’s youngest and most vulnerable. Approximately half of all the children living in Indigenous communities suffer from malnutrition, with the highest incidence among the Ngobe-Bugle peoples. In addition to these challenges, some areas in the country are still reeling from the 1989 United States invasion of Panama, a military intervention with deep, lasting scars.

What We Do

Since the 1980s, we have partnered with grassroots organizations in Panama that work directly with the Ngobe-Bugle people and that cooperate with other non-government organizations in the region. Our partners are experts who lead local projects to help their communities:

  • Promote human rights, women’s rights and the rights of the Ngobe-Bugle peoples,
  • Promote food security and tackle malnutrition in the Ngobe-Bugle region of Panama,
  • Provide training to leaders of community-based organizations in Central and Latin America,
  • Empower women and provide early childhood education for poor children.

In 2017, with our Panamanian partner The Organization of Mother-Teachers (OMMA), we launched a project to develop early childhood development curriculum for marginalized children across the country.

Featured Projects


Panama's Early Childhood Education Model Through Women's Knowledge-Sharing Perspective

Organization of Mother-Teachers (OMMA)
Start Date:
June, 2017 - 2018