Panama is reeling under a water shortage crisis that can attain monumental proportions in future, if the largescale environmental degradation resulting from indiscriminate commercial logging is not controlled. Since 1990, water has been rationed and hydro-power supplies have been reduced.
Deforestation has disrupted the water-cycle and rainfall patterns, increased soil erosion and silted up rivers, thus reducing the flow to drinking water supplies. The Alejuela lake, which provides water to the capital's inhabitants, was found to be silting up in the late 80's at the rate of 4 per cent per year.
A rapidly increasing population and a lack of public interest have contributed to the pressure on the environment. Ecological activists feel that a return to traditional methods of farming, avoidance of monocultures, establishing recycling procedures and an emphasis on education are needed to save the nation's environment.(IPS)
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