Austrian Development Aid for La Gamba

The town of La Gamba
La Gamba was founded in the 1950”˜s as a social housing settlement of the Instituto Desarollo Agrario (IDA). Today it has a population of 400 habitants (around 70 families), of which 56% have not completed elementary school and only 4% have completed high school. Politically, La Gamba belongs to the town of Golfito. The main problems are mass unemployment resulting in crime and drug problems; lack of education and public transportation; sub-standard housing;bad sewage; frequent flooding. Chief employers in La Gamba are Esquinas Lodge and La Gamba Field Station (offering up to 20 permanent jobs).

A ten-Year development aid Plan by the Austrian government, that lasted from 1995 to 2005, aimed to transform La Gamba into a self-sustainable community by focusing on organization, production, and community outreach in order to improve social, economic and environmental conditions. The main components were self-management, sustainable production, and the generation of small businesses, all developed consecutively. The objective was the development of the community beginning with the participation of the inhabitants, the improvement of production, and service of small businesses. The Asociación Probienestar de La Gamba (ASOPROBI), founded by the Fundación Neotrópica, is La Gamba's first democratically elected village council. It is divided into subcommittees for agriculture, health, women, security, roads, youth, education and water.

The La Gamba Fund

When the Austrian government project ended in 2005, Esquinas Lodge created the "La Gamba Fond" with the goal of bettering the living standard of the local community by financially supporting community projects. The original capital of $ 200,000 stemmed from the sale of Esquinas Lodge, and Rainforest of the Austrian donated a further $22,000. Projects are  submitted by community committees and must serve the well-being of the entire community. Private projects or loans are not accepted by the La Gamba Fund. 


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