The Golden Thread

On the run from water in Panama
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Author:  Bluebonnet [ Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  On the run from water in Panama

Migration in the Americas: On the run from water in Panama

Thousands of Kuna — indigenous people living in an archipelago off the northern coast of Panama — are facing a drastic lifestyle change because of rising seas.

Kuna Yala, or Kuna Land, is comprised of 365 islands and a narrow, 250-mile-long strip of land on the Caribbean coast. Thirty-six of the islands are inhabited.

In August, the first round of evacuations will force some Kuna to the mainland because of dangerous living conditions, affecting 65 families. Ultimately, all of the islands will be evacuated — affecting 36,000 people — and new dwellings are being built and funded on the mainland by the Panamanian government.

The inhabited islands are chock full of houses built of reeds and palm leaves and no match for storms and rising water. Historically, flooding was comparatively rare, but residents now regularly contend with surging water.

Experts say sea levels rose nearly seven inches over the past century, and levels could rise another two feet by the end of this century. :o

The Kuna have lived on the Caribbean coast in autonomy for more than 80 years. Two centuries ago, most Kunas lived on the mainland, but they relocated to the islands following an epidemic. They make their living from fishing and farming. They grow manioc, pineapples and bananas in their small fields on the mainland, but their most lucrative crop is coconuts.


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