SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Panamá).

Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, Panama is a country synonymous with the Panama Canal that links the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Most of its 4 million inhabitants live in the centre of the country, around the Canal, with a large portion of the population also living in the west. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, but it also has one of the highest rates of inequality in the region and the world. Disparities persist based on wealth, geography, and ethnicity. Girls and women, Afro-descendants, and indigenous people are particularly affected

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Panamá since 1982.

Children are at risk

Children, young people and families living in Panama face many challenges: poverty, no access to clean water and sanitation and lack of education. Partly because of a lack of sanitation, chronic malnutrition affects 16% of Panama’s children under 5 – that number even goes up to 59% in the north-east. In addition, climate change also threatens their future. Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, wildfires are happening more frequently
Of children do not attend preschool


Preschool education is compulsory in Panama, yet an estimated 40% of children aged 4 to 5 years do not attend it. Limited availability of relevant, culturally adapted preschool education services is an explaining factor, just like the lack of staff training and support. And while the attendance rate for children of primary school age is 97%, around 9% of those pupils are over-age – two years or older than the official age for their grade.

Of the population lives in poverty


With the second worst income distribution in Latin America, about 25% of the population of Panama lives in poverty. Throughout the country there are some communities that still lack sanitation and electricity infrastructures. Some of the non-indigenous rural residents have left the rural areas and moved to find work in urban areas. However, the impact of poverty on the indigenous population remains very high.

Of children experience violence at home


Around 45% of Panama’s children between the ages of 1 to 14, have experienced physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by their caregivers. Indigenous girls and adolescents show greater vulnerability to violence. While the long-term impacts of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are only beginning to emerge, 1 in 3 households did report conflicts during lockdown. The effects of the isolation caused by the pandemic and how it impacted violence against children will become clearer in years to come.

Together we can make a difference for children in Panamá

Can stay together
Grow up in our care
Children and young people
Are supported on their way to independence
SOS Children’s Villages works to protect the rights and privacy of children. As you may notice, we do not show any identifiable photos of children in general information about Panama. This is because we have limited permission from the children and/or their legal guardians (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Panamá).

Let’s keep on protecting children and young people!

Many children have been able to find a safe and secure home. With your help, we can continue to change their lives