Municipio de Panama!

September 21, 2012

First day in the office.  I won’t spend a lot of time on this blog writing about our project; however, I will touch on it a bit.  The country of Panama has been going through some huge and significant changes.  As you may know, the French started the Panama Canal as a project, but due to a variety of reasons….were unable to finish.  The United States, along with the sacrifice of many, stepped in and finished the Canal.  Through a series of treaties, the Canal area became a neutral zone and was eventually reverted back under control of the Panamanian Government.  With this reversion, came all of the assets once built and managed by the United States.

This included approximately 97,000 hectares of land, several thousand buildings and facilities including multiple former military bases.  Essentially, over night, the land area within the responsibility of the municipality increased by over half of what its size was then.  The responsibilities of governance increased significantly although the number of employees did not.  Not long ago, the National Government decided to decentralize local governance to the municipalities, thus we have to build institutional capacity for the Municipal Government of Panama.  The objective is to produce a ‘Strategic Plan’ to do just that!  My primary work location will be in the Municipal Building:

This is the first day on location, in the first meeting of the day.  Great information and great presentations.  Right here, I am sitting with a few of the team members I’ll be working with:

All of them have a wealth of information, and already I feel my Panamanian stride developing 🙂 This project will really be amazing!  The city has grown by leaps and bounds, literally, over night; lots of migration from neighboring Columbia and Venezuela; they are currently in the process of building a new Metro Train; they are converting a former Military base into a new city from the ground up (Panama-Pacifico); they have transformed other areas into uniquely developed concepts (Ciudad de Saber – City of Knowledge); and because of the influx of people, they are also experiencing some significant population sprawl….not to mention the expansion of the Canal de Panama to accommodate the next generation of super-size container ships!

The construction of new buildings is everywhere…to the degree that they have a hard time filling construction worker slots!  Did I say there was a lot going on!!!!  And, that is the tip of the Ice-Berg!  The Municipio de Panama is stepping up to build its governance capacity to manage a lot of this activity.

Me! Well, I’m fortunate to be on the team!  An afternoon of meetings, then off to delve into the city!

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