Casco Viejo`s community works with the government to improve garbage collection system.

Casco Viejo, Casco Antiguo
Real Estate Investment at Panama`s
Historic City

AVACA, Casco Antiguo`s neighborhood association celebrates its one year birthday this
month. At its birth one year ago, the community identified five focus areas, being
the garbage disposal one of them. Since then, the association has done different activities
(from beach cleaning to educational workshops), many of them side by side with local
authorities. However, the recollection system in the neighborhood was working only
half way.

Tomorrow, AVACA`s Garbage Committee, the City (Municipio), along with Oficina del
Casco Antiguo and the support of local politician José Blandón will inaugurate a new
recollection system for the area. It is a first time for the neighborhood, as historically
citizens and government had lived and worked in different spheres. But through AVACA,
Casco`s community has been able to get organized and slowly lobby towards their goals,
which is a very unique situation within Panama City. Only a handful of neighborhoods
have organized, working associations.  Success depends completely on a full collaboration
of both parties and continuity.

For Casco Antiguo, the first step has been to include local schools into the process.
On Thursday, three schools will receive awards for a small art contest where children
presented drawings of their vision for a clean Casco Viejo.  The winner drawing
will be used as part of the campaign, which will include signs along the recollection
trucks and fliers.

The event will also have a small theatre play where clowns and mimes will get the
point across using what Panamanians and children love best: laughs.

The new recollection system will be simple: garbage will be collected at night.
From 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. residential garbage, and then from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. a special
car will come for commercial and restaurants. Garbage will be outside each building,
and the use of bags is mandatory.

As simple as this sounds, it is a radical cultural change for the neighborhood, used
to dispose garbage in any bag (and only if applicable) and at any hour. Education
will be key to achieve this goal and for the next two weeks members of AVACA and Municipio
will walk the area talking to every resident and handling educational material.

Another important element of the program is the coordination with local authorities
to fine those who don`t comply with the new regulation. The Corregiduría will be able
to process all the phone calls regarding improperly disposed garbage.

“We know this is the beginning and we`ll need probably to make adjustments as we verify
execution, but we can make of Casco Antiguo a roll model neighborhood. It is a small
site, and we are excited about getting this project started.” said Eudes Quijada,
area supervisor for Panama`s Garbage Department (DIMAUD).

Some of the local restaurants have started to recycle, which makes for an interesting
second phase of the project.

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