SEP 07, 2023 6:24 PM PDT

As the Sea Rises, an Island Community is Abandoned

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

On a tiny island off the coast of Panama, a community preparing to leave everything behind, forever. Carti Sugtupu is a small island packed with about 2,000 Indigenous people who survive by fishing and raising cassava and plantains, and they have very small tourism and textile industries. Access to services like healthcare and necessities like reliable electricity, indoor plumbing, and clean drinking water are extremely limited, and the residents have to contend with intense heat and overcrowding.

Image credit: Pixabay

Now, climate change has brought another problem to Carti Sugtupu. The island is constantly flooding as sea levels rise. Experts are warning that Carti Sugtupu and many other local islands, which are also populated, will be completely underwater by 2100.

Residents of Carti Sugtupu have already noticed the sea rising and their homes being inundated more frequently. "We think we're going to sink, we know it's going to happen," 73-year-old retired teacher Magdalena Martinez, told AFP.

Steven Paton, a scientist at the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, told AFP that most of these tiny Panamanian islands will have to be abandoned by 2100 because of the rising seas created by climate change.

The Panamanian government has promised to assist the community by relocating them to an area on the mainland. While their safety may be at less risk, they are making sacrifices as their way of life will be significantly altered. "This will change our lifestyle quite a bit," said Martinez. Though, she noted, "it won't change our spirit, it won't change our habits."

Some people are a bit more excited. Community member and teacher Braulio Navarro is 62 years old and has to get across the island every day just to use a communal toilet. He told the AFP he cannot wait to move, and that with fans, air conditioning, and 24-hour electricity, the new community, "will be a great benefit for my family."

Source: AFP via

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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