Cerro Negro

  • Overview
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Water
  • Business
  • Public Health


Cerro Negro is a small community located in the biodiverse region of Veraguas in Panama. Global Brigades began working with community members in 2020 through local business consulting on Business Brigades and the establishment of the Community Bank. A typical house in Cerro Negro is made of concrete, mud, and bricks. Cerro Negro has a health post in the community, which means community members can have basic medical aid in case of emergency. About 98% of homes have an adequate toilet or latrine but the community overall doesn’t have a water system. The main form of employment is agriculture and skilled labour. The top 3 needs expressed by the community were improvements to the road conditions, building a water system, and access to health services.

Corregimiento: Veraguas
District: Santa Fe

Homes : 120
Population : 200
Water System : Not Started
Community Bank : Active Implementation
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : Yes
Community Health Workers : Active Implementation
% of Homes with Latrines : 100%
Education in the Community : Up to primary school
Distance from Lodging Facility (km) : 0 KM


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Even though Panama is a country with a lot of economic growth, this growth does not apply equally to all Panamanians, especially those in rural areas. This results in stark inequality when it comes to healthcare access. The Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) provides two different types of health facilities throughout rural Panama: Centros de Salud and Puestos de Salud. Centros are the larger of the two, often found in municipalities, and typically have at least one physician on staff at all times with nurses and potentially a dentist. Puestos are found sporadically in rural communities and generally have a single nurse available. 

Cerro Negro has a Puesto de Salud or Health Post where they can get basic medical aid but need to travel to the closest corresponding Centro de Salud is in Los Ruices, about 5 KM away, which costs about $2 by bus if they want to make an appointment to a specialist. The most common illnesses seen within the community are diarrhoea, fever, common cold, and arthritis.

Health Post : Yes
Community Health Workers : Active Implementation
Common illnesses in Children : Common cold, diarrhea, fever
Common illnesses in Adults : Asthma and arthritis


Cerro Negro has 1 Community Health Worker that is currently in training. Community Health Workers, or Agentes Comunitarios en Salud (ACeS), work on a volunteer basis as advocates for healthcare within their communities. Their primary responsibilities include: educating community members to prevent common illnesses, providing emergency first aid, supporting pregnant mothers and newborns, and following up with chronic patients. The presence of these volunteers and their advocacy for health within their community contributes to the sustainability of healthcare supported by Global Brigades’ Medical Program and is one of the most impactful disease prevention strategies in rural communities.


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


A dental Charla in a community in Panama

In working closely with the medical program, the dental program provides fillings, extractions, and fluoride treatments as a standard part of medical brigades. Most community members do not have regular access to dental care due to the lack of dentists within a reasonable distance.


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Cerro Negro but has not yet begun with the Water Program. If there is a need, the Water Program will begin implementing a new water system or any necessary repairs to existing infrastructure as soon as feasible.


Water System : No
Type of System : None
% Homes with Access to Water : 0%
Water Council : Yes
Number of Members : 8


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Community members in Cerro Negro lack access to financial resources within the community. The majority of community members do not have bank accounts and there are only limited informal forms of credit available. Larger financial institutions do not approve loans to community members without a fixed income, making it difficult for local micro-enterprises to grow and thrive.

Most community members cite the distance to the nearest bank as the main discouragement to having a personal savings account. Even if individuals wish to travel the distance, not all community members can become members of these financial institutions–cooperatives require monthly membership fees, savings accounts often require a fixed income, and the cost of travel provides an additional barrier.




Loans Disbursed


Capital Invested


The Business Program works to stimulate the local economy by organizing community volunteers around a community bank, or “Caja Rural”, which is entirely owned and operated by its members. The Business Program provides training and support to help strengthen these community banks. In order to pool their limited funds together, increase the capital available to the community bank, and expand the impact of its financial services, each member contributes a capitalization fee for which they receive a proportional amount of the bank’s dividends at the end of its fiscal year. Upon the completion of six months of executive board training, the community bank begins giving out loans to bank members to spur economic growth and home improvement projects.

Cerro Grande’s community bank was established in 2020 with the support of Global Brigades and has Business Brigades that provide business insights to the mini enterprises in the community. 


As mentioned before, in addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Cerro Negro there are businesses that have received financial training and business recommendations. Agro-businesses are prominent forms of commerce within this community and adequate book-keeping and maintaining relationships with customers, as well as proper agriculture cultivation can lead to increased revenues for business owners and employees.

Through the help of Business Brigades, clients get advice on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing sustainable agriculture practices.


Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Duke University Business September 2021 25 Milkin University Business September 2021 14

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Many community members in Cerro Negro lacked the resources needed to improve their homes and prevent diseases caused by unsafe living conditions. Only around 50% of homes in Cerro Negro had adequate sanitation services prior to the arrival of Global Brigades. This lack of improved sanitation led to high rates of diarrhoea and water-borne disease.

Although community members recognized the problems inherent to their living environments, they did not have the economic resources or the technical knowledge needed to address them. It also was necessary to increase the level of awareness concerning sanitation and the importance of health in the community.

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Cerro Negro but has not yet begun with the Public Health Program. The implementation of public health services and the improvement of infrastructure will start as soon as feasible.

% Homes with Latrines : 100%
% Homes with Eco-Stoves : 100%
% Homes with Water FIlters : 0%
% Homes with concrete floors : 42%
% Homes with bath/showers : 0%
Common House Materials : Cement bricks, mud, zinc

Local Reference Points

View the map to see the closest volunteer lodging facilities, hospitals, and other relevant points of reference.

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