In pictures from high above, the island of Gardi Sugdub resembles a container shipyard — small, brightly colored dwellings are jammed together cheek to jowl. At ground level, the island, one of more than 350 in the San Blas archipelago off the northern coast of Panama, is hot, flat and crowded. More than 1,000 people occupy the narrow dwellings that cover virtually every bit of the 150-by-400-meter island, which is slowly being swallowed by rising seas driven by climate change.
This year, about 300 families from Gardi Sugdub are expected to begin moving to a new community on the mainland. The resettlement plan was initiated by the residents there more than a decade ago when they could no longer deny that the island couldn’t accommodate the growing population. Rising seas and intense storms are only making the predicament more dire.
Many of the older adults will opt to stay put.