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Fighting Child Poverty in EcuadorChild poverty in Ecuador is on the rise in Ecuador, resulting in poorer standards of living and higher rates of child mortality. Efforts from organizations around the world are successfully fighting against this, promoting the health and education of Ecuador’s youth.

Ecuador’s Poverty Rate

Ecuador is a South American country located on the West Coast of the continent. Northwest of Peru and southwest of Colombia, Ecuador is home to 17.4 million people. Ecuador’s name is derived from its location on the Equator, and the nation is located in both hemispheres of the world.

Ecuador’s poverty rate has fluctuated over the past several years. In 2007, 36.7% of its people lived in poverty. Additionally, Ecuador’s poverty was reduced to 21.5%. However, poverty started rising again recently, and as of 2019, over 25% of Ecuador’s population was impoverished. This means that over a quarter of Ecuador’s 17.4 million people, or about 4.4 million people, live under the national poverty line.

Child poverty in Ecuador is a severe issue. Children in Ecuador are disproportionately impoverished in comparison to the general population. Over 40% of children in Ecuador live in poverty, which is well above the 25% poverty rate of the general population.

Malnutrition does the most damage in adolescence, creating health difficulties that can last for a lifetime. Poverty in adolescence also sets up children to have a lower standard of living, as they are denied crucial education opportunities that would allow them greater future success. Child poverty is also strongly correlated with poor academic performance and early school abandonment.

Children International: Fighting Child Poverty

Fighting child poverty in Ecuador is a focus of multiple organizations in the United States. These initiatives focus on targeting the malnutrition and dwindling health of Ecuador’s children.

Children International, a non-governmental organization (NGO), aims to transform the lives of Ecuador’s youth by addressing hunger, among other necessities. Through its “Nutrition Program,” tens of thousands of children in Ecuador that are malnourished or at-risk for malnourishment are supported. Not only are the children fed, but Children International also provides medical check-ups and holds nutritional training workshops.

The organization also targets impoverished children’s educational opportunities as they “typically don’t have the skills, resources or knowledge to succeed.” Through its Social and Financial Education program, children in Ecuador are learning the skills to secure successful careers, how to be more resourceful and even how to “believe in themselves.” Through this, Children International is breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Looking Forward

Other organizations are leading the fight against poverty as well. United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children International (UBECI), another NGO, is a prime example. UBECI takes independent action to address the lacking educational, medical and emotional support resources available to Ecuador’s youth. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also been a key proponent in addressing child poverty in Ecuador. USAID funding has increased access to medicinal treatments for mothers and children in Ecuador, as well as support child education through the creation of schools and higher education programs.

Assistance from various organizations around the world is paramount toward combatting child poverty in Ecuador. While these projects have substantially improved the health and welfare of Ecuadorian children, there is still much to be done to address the child poverty that accounts for one in four children in Ecuador.

– Asa Scott
Photo: Flickr

Raspberry Pi“Ciudad de Ariel” is an elementary school in the rural town of Duran, Ecuador. In this small school, people are studying a computer substitute that could change the world called Raspberry Pi. This life changing computer is a small chip that can fit in a hand.

The Technological Gap

For many developing countries, technology is out of the picture. The general growth in technology proficiency has evaded developing countries. They often cannot afford internet access and computers in all schools, so children and young adults suffer in technological skills. Furthermore, other challenges of poverty, like food insecurity and lack of water, take priority to learning how to use a computer.

The problem is that technology can actually provide large benefits for developing countries. The internet offers vast amounts of information and programming to serve any need. If developing countries have access to computers, the ability to decrease poverty levels can be more feasible. Unfortunately, most computers are specialized, expensive and hard to produce. Previously, developing countries lacked the budget for technology advancement and access. But now, the Raspberry Pi offers tech opportunities to people all over the world.

The Device

There are many unique aspects of the Raspberry Pi that separate it from normal computers. First, its price is affordable; it has a base cost of $35. This is significantly cheaper than any other computer chip on the market. As such, some schools in areas of poverty are using Raspberry Pis in their computer labs.

Another unique aspect of the Raspberry Pi is it’s small form. The Raspberry Pi 4, the most recent model, is only 3.37 inches high and 2.22 inches wide. An entire computer lab of Raspberry Pis can fit in a suitcase. Not only is the computer chip small, it is also incredibly light, weighing only 46 grams. Therefore, the Raspberry Pi is easily portable. This is an important factor as many schools in developing countries are in rural, hard-to-reach areas.

Finally, the Raspberry Pi is famous for its versatility. Most computers are made to do specific tasks. Whether it is running a server, rendering 3D graphics, or browsing the internet, each computer has distinct hardware for its purpose. The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is capable of handling almost any task. For example, it can be used as a traditional desktop computer, a server or as a basic computer chip to automate mechanical devices. This allows people to use the device for any function they need.

Due to the Raspberry Pi’s unique capabilities, it has the capability to be highly successful in advancing technology for developing countries.

Real-World Examples

A recent study found that the Raspberry Pi provides a cost-effective approach in building computer labs for schools in developing countries. The success of the pilot project conducted in the elementary school in Duran, Ecuador corroborated this finding. Computer labs have also been built in Cameroon and West Africa. It’s not an entire lab, but a project called Malinux Télé donated Raspberry Pis to children in Mali.

The computer has impacts beyond education. An automated loom was developed using a Raspberry Pi. The designers of this loom found it to be cheaper than traditional automated looms. Another project found a cheap way to purify water using a Raspberry Pi.

The little computer has been able to accomplish tremendous things. From computer labs in Ecuador and West Africa to automated looms and water purifiers, the Raspberry Pi has proven to be a force for good and can change how developing countries access technology.

Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

Corruption in EcuadorEcuador is a country that faces a multitude of pervasive problems. One such problem is the high rate of corruption taking place within the country. According to Transparency International, Ecuador ranked 93rd out of 180 countries for corruption. On top of that, former President Rafael Correa of Ecuador was convicted of corruption in April 2020.

Corruption’s Impact on the Poor

Corruption has a widespread impact on many different social classes. However, corruption disproportionately impacts those in poverty. Money that could be used to help provide public services to the people who need it has been lost due to corruption. Money that the U.N. provides to impoverished nations has been wasted by corrupt governments as well.

While corruption in Ecuador is a serious problem, the Ecuadorian citizenry has been vocal about corruption through their voting behavior. Various international organizations have also attempted to prevent corruption in Ecuador alongside current President Lenín Moreno.

The International Republican Institute (IRI)

The IRI has offered to lend a helping hand in the fight against corruption in Ecuador. One way that the IRI has helped Ecuador is through its Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach (VCA). The IRI has used the VCA to help Ecuadorian municipalities make their local authorities more transparent with their citizenry and shifted their focus to important anti-corruption issues. The IRI initiated the VCA in Cuenca, Ecuador, as well as four other cities. The reason for this approach is that these cities have a more serious corruption problem compared to others in Ecuador. At the national Local Transparent Governments Conference, the leader of Cuenca, Ecuador’s anti-corruption unit, shared different methods used for preventing corruption with more than 150 different nationally and locally elected officials.

Changes Within the Government

The people of Ecuador have also tried to stop corruption by voting for new candidates. The 2019 local elections throughout Ecuador brought forth a great amount of change because of this. This is abundantly obvious considering that many of the candidates that were voted for in the local elections came from third parties or were entirely new to Ecuadorian politics. This is why many of them attended the Local Transparent Governments Conference. These candidates simply did not know or have the experience needed to identify corruption or prevent it.

Current President Moreno has also made efforts to reduce corruption in Ecuador. One example of this was the conviction of the former vice president for accepting bribes that amount to $13.5 million. Convictions like this are only possible because President Moreno has allowed high-level corruption cases to be investigated.

Due to the help of the IRI, the votes of the Ecuadorian people and actions within the government, the people of Ecuador are making strides to reduce corruption within their country.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

The Pratt PouchThose living in poverty often have limited access to basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. Beyond these basic necessities lies the need for free or affordable healthcare, yet so many countries are still lacking in that regard. Insufficient health centers and medical treatments do little to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases such as HIV. Mothers with HIV have up to a 45 percent chance of transmitting the disease to their babies during childbirth and breastfeeding. The invention of the Pratt Pouch has helped in the reduction of that risk to just 5 percent.

How It Works

Every year, 400,000 children are diagnosed with HIV as a result of their mothers being HIV positive. Robert Malkin of Duke University hopes that the Pratt Pouch will reduce that number to fewer than 100,000 cases a year. Malkin and his team created the Pratt Pouch at the Pratt School of Engineering. The “foilized, polyethylene pouch” is filled with pediatric doses of antiretrovirals. The pouch gives the medication to have a shelf- life of up to twelve months. Other containers such as cups, spoons or syringes have a much shorter shelf-life because the containers absorb the water inside the medication, causing it to solidify.

The medication is provided to mothers during prenatal visits, but it is usually administered to the baby at home. The Pratt Pouch has a perforation, so it easily tears open. Since it contains a pre-measured dose, there is no need for a syringe, and it is taken orally. To be effective, the medication should be administered within seventy-two hours of birth; however, the ideal window of time is in the first twenty-four hours. The child takes the medication for six weeks.

The makers of the Pratt Pouch have partnered with IntraHealth International, which is providing training for pharmacists and community health workers. These trained individuals then go out and educate mothers about the proper methods to use to treat their children.

Who Is Using It?

So far, Uganda and Ecuador use the pouches. Malkin partnered with Fundación VIHDA in 2012. Since then, they have distributed the pouches to four hospitals in Guayaquil and Quito. Humberto Mata, the co-founder of Fundación VIHDA, estimates that more than 1,000 babies have received antiretroviral medication through the use of the pouches.

In Ecuador, a pharmacist manually fills and seals the pouches. However, a high-tech facility constructed at Hospice Uganda in Kampala is equipped with special machines that fill and seal the pouches in four seconds. That is a fraction of the time it takes a pharmacist to fill by hand.

Future Goals

It is one of Malkin’s goals to help medicate 40,000 infants in Uganda over the course of the next three years. In addition, Malkin hopes to use the pouches to deliver treatments for diseases besides HIV. “For example, HIV and pneumonia often occur together, so I could imagine giving mothers two sets of color-coded pouches, one set for HIV and one for pneumonia,” said Malkin.

The Pratt Pouch has been effective in decreasing the chance of an HIV positive mother transmitting the disease to her baby during birth. By making the antiretroviral medication easily accessible and easy-to-use, the creators of the Pratt Pouch have helped put the minds of worried mothers at ease. A mother can be at peace knowing she has done everything she can to keep her child healthy.

– Sareen Mekhitarian
Photo: Pixabay

Venezuelans Fleeing
As the beneficiary of the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in Latin America. However, in 2014, the economy began to collapse. The Bolivar, its currency, has gone into free fall, leaving millions unable to afford even the most basic necessities. According to Bloomberg’s Café con leche index, a cup of coffee today costs the same as 1,800 cups in January 2018. As food and health care become more difficult to come by, many Venezuelans are faced with the decision of struggling to get by or fleeing the country.

Why Flee?

Every day, thousands of Venezuelans leave their country in search of safety and stability, many of them arriving in Colombia. The International Rescue Committee has been supporting families in need in Cúcuta, a border city, since April 2018.

Venezuela is millions in debt while the only commodity that the country relies on is oil. Unfortunately, the value of oil has plummeted. In 2014, the price of oil was about $100 a barrel. Then several countries started to pump too much oil as new drilling technology could dredge up what was previously inaccessible, but businesses globally were not buying more gasoline. Too much oil caused the global price to drop to $26 in 2016. Today the price hovers around $50, which means that Venezuela’s income has been cut in half.

At the same time, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s hostility towards foreign business has created a corporate exodus. Companies such as United, General Motors and Pepsi have left entirely and unemployment in Venezuela could reach 25 percent this year. To try and keep up, Maduro has raised the minimum wage three times in 2019 in order to provide a little short-term relief to the poor. Currently, the minimum wage is at 18,000 bolivars per month, which is around $6.70 U.S.

How Many Venezuelans Have Left?

According to the U.N., more than three million people have already left Venezuela since the crisis began, and that number is increasing at a rapid rate. Approximately one million people, several lacking official documentation, have gone to neighboring Colombia. However, Peru is the second most popular destination country for Venezuelan refugees, with over 500,000. Ecuador follows, with over 220,000, Argentina with over 130,000, Chile with over 100,000 and Brazil with 85,000 immigrants.

By the end of 2019, the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country should reach 5.3 million. Nearly 300,000 children have fled the homes and lives they once knew, and approximately 10 percent of the country’s total population has already left.

The Way Out

The majority of those fleeing Venezuela do so on foot, and the road begins close to Cúcuta. Many people pay smugglers to use a trocha, which is an illegal border crossing through a river. On the Colombian side of the border has become a huge open-air market for all the things that people cannot get in Venezuela anymore. Vendors advertise medicines and cigarettes, candy and phone minutes for people to call home.

Sadly, some do not make the journey on foot. In Cúcuta, the temperature can hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, on other parts of the route, the road climbs to 10,000 feet above sea level and temperature can drop below freezing. Walking this route takes approximately 32 days. The mountain pass, La Nevera, translates to the Refrigerator. Aid groups and residents have opened their homes and set up shelters along the path. However, the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country has surpassed the number of shelters available along the way, making space for only the lucky few.

The Impact

The emotional wellbeing of children who have fled Venezuela is of high concern. Sometimes traveling alone, boys and girls disrupt their education and are in great danger of falling behind in school and never catching up again. On the contrary, some parents leave their children behind when they leave the country. These children often gain material benefits from their parents’ migration, because sending hard currency to relatives provides greater access to food, medicine and other lacking necessities.

Furthermore, tensions between Venezuelans fleeing the country and citizens of other countries is often high. Colombia has had to reach out to the international community for help in dealing with the influx of migrants. Hospitals and elementary schools in Cúcuta have been overwhelmed, and administrators complain about the central government’s failure to reimburse them for the cost of caring for migrants. The national government has suspended the issuance of temporary visas, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has promised $30 million in assistance.

In Ecuador, anti-immigrant sentiments reached a highpoint when a Venezuelan allegedly stabbed to death his pregnant Ecuadorian girlfriend, Diana Ramirez Reyes, in front of police and scared residents of the city of Ibarra. Since then, President Lenin Moreno decreed a tougher immigration policy that requires incoming Venezuelans to present a document certifying they had a clean criminal record in Venezuela. However, such documents are costly to obtain in Venezuela.

Similarly, Peru and Chileans have developed hesitation toward Venezuelans fleeing the country. People cannot renew work permits in Peru and as of 2018, the country decided to stop issuing them. A recent survey in Chile found that many natives disapprove of the number of immigrants coming in. Seventy-five percent of those responding to the survey thought that the number of immigrants was excessive.

Who is Helping?

Since April 2018, the IRC has been working in Cúcuta supporting Venezuelans and vulnerable Colombians with specialized services for women and children, cash assistance and health care. Aid organizations and families are also working to help immigrants along the route. The Colombian Red Cross has a small aid station on the outskirts of Pamplona, a city in Colombia’s Norte de Santander region.

The U.S. government has also helped by providing about $200 million in humanitarian aid to address the crisis in the region. Most of this money has gone to Colombia as do the majority of Venezuelans fleeing the country.

UNICEF has appealed for $69.5 million to meet the needs of uprooted children from Venezuela and those living in host and transit communities across the LAC region. It is working with national and local governments, host communities and partners to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitation, protection, education and health services for Venezuelans fleeing the country.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

 

Galapagos tourism reduces poverty
Tourism can be an important tool for developing countries to reduce domestic poverty. The global industry is responsible for 5 percent of the world’s GDP and helps provide foreign exchange earnings and over 235 million jobs. Many of these jobs belong to the poor in developing countries because of the labor-intensive and low-skill nature of work in the tourism sector.

Tourism’s Impact

Workers can often make $1,000 to $4,000 a year which can help bring workers and their families above the poverty line. Employment can be scarce in some developing countries, which makes tourism a necessary stimulant in otherwise stagnant economies. International arrivals continue to increase each year, which creates an even greater demand for labor.

One developing nation that sustainably benefits from the tourism industry is Ecuador.

Equador and the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos islands host one of the few remaining natural sanctuaries for marine and bird life such as sea lions, octopi, sharks and flamingos in the world. Many of these species are endemic to the Galapagos, which means that they do not exist anywhere else in the world.

The animal life, geologic activity and lack of development have made the archipelago a premier travel destination for wealthy patrons looking for an expeditionary vacation. The islands continue to gain popularity as the number of visitors has grown from 17,500 in 1980 to over 200,000 in 2012.

The Ecuadorian government has kept pace with growing demand, while still preserving the untouched beauty of the Galapagos by employing a platform of Eco-Tourism.

Eco-Tourism

The World Conservation Union defines Eco Tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people.” The goals of eco-tourism are to capitalize on the economic benefits of tourism while minimizing the negative effects it can have on the environment and local people.

Ecuadorian policymakers have actualized this approach in a manner that has maximized benefits to tourists, the local population and ecosystems alike.

The increasing popularity of the Galapagos islands for tourists has been met with several regulations designed to protect the environment and interests of the local people. The government mandates that cruise ships must be kept in Ecuadorian ports, which incentivizes international cruise liners to staff their boats with locals and purchase supplies from the mainland.

Poverty Reduction

Such occurrences couples the direct benefits of tourist expenditures on the islands with the indirect benefits of employment, trade, transport, construction and social services.

A study by Edward Taylor entitled Ecotourism and Economic Growth in the Galapagos (2006) found that overall tourism generates $200 million in revenues. Meanwhile, the locally-owned hostels have gained more popularity with tourists as a more affordable option to the small cruises.  These hostels expose tourists to local markets and restaurants, which further directs capital flows away from international cruise lines and towards the people of Ecuador.

Galapagos tourism reduces poverty by focusing on the inclusion and welfare of the locals. The environment has also benefited from this Eco-Touristic approach.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

The islands were made a national park in 1959 and have become further protected as tourist numbers have increased. “Cruises are limited to having 100 guests per trip,” only certain areas are designated for expeditions and 97 percent of the island is protected from human habitation. Measures like these have protected the endemic wildlife of the Galapagos from human interference and invasive species.

The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview an expedition leader for the Silver Seas cruise in the Galapagos, and he stated that “tourism only adds an average of 1,500 extra people to the islands each day because of the regulations.” Thus, Galapagos tourism reduces poverty without harming the environment.

The conservation measures taken by the Ecuadorian government have minimized the effects of human activity, but the presence of humans has still caused problems for some of the native wildlife.

Migration Ramifications

The migration of mainland Ecuadorians to the three percent of the island not protected by national park statuses has created a presence of feral dogs, cats and goats that outcompete the native animals and bring some to the point of starvation.

The guide even explained that “feral dogs eat the baby giant tortoise eggs and the goats feed on the plants that several of native herbivores rely on to survive.”

A Prosperous Balance

The governing body of the Galapagos has responded by attempting to exterminate these feral animals and create breeding centers for endangered native species, but it’s important for tourists and migrants alike to respect the true natives of the archipelago.

Eco-Tourism, as seen in the Galapagos, should serve as a model for other vacation destinations. The Galapagos tourism reduces poverty through the influx of foreign spending and the jobs created, without harming the natural environment which is allowing tourism to flourish as well.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Google

After Oil Windfall, Spending on Infrastructure In Ecuador Continues ApaceEcuador is a small, resource-rich country sandwiched between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean on Latin America’s western coast. Home to just over 16 million people, the country’s geography brings with it numerous advantages and pitfalls for infrastructure in Ecuador. With a landscape containing some of the continent’s tallest peaks and the thick jungle of the Amazon, infrastructure in Ecuador is a challenge — but oil revenues, largely found off the coast or in the interior of the country, have spurred a development boom over the last decade.

High oil prices in the late 2000s and early 2010s allowed the government of then-President Rafael Correa to unleash significant government spending on social services, government programs and energy and transport infrastructure in Ecuador. With the end of the oil boom in 2014 and a crash in global prices, the country found itself in a difficult financial situation. Despite the sharp decline in resource revenues, the new government of President Lenin Moreno is pushing ahead with ambitious spending on infrastructure in Ecuador.

While new funding is being dedicated to everything from hospitals to schools, the government is focusing on improvements to energy and coastal infrastructure in Ecuador. The coast around the town of Portoviejo, decimated by a 2016 earthquake that killed 673 and left more than 30,000 homeless, is a prime candidate for greater spending to rebuild damaged infrastructure and is a main focus of the government’s recently unveiled budget for next year.

Without oil revenues, the government is betting that greater public spending on infrastructure in Ecuador — supported by the World Bank and other institutional partners — can accelerate GDP growth in an economy ravaged by the fall in oil prices, the 2016 earthquake and a particularly devastating season of floods due to the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Beyond rebuilding efforts, the government is seeking more public-private partnerships for new infrastructure in Ecuador. Recently announced deals include a $65 million shrimp industry plant built by a Norwegian fish feeding company. The government is also pursuing public projects across the country, including a light rail line in the city of Cuenca and a new market in a town that borders Peru.

– Giacomo Tognini

Photo: Flickr

How to Help the People in EcuadorNatural disaster, domestic violence and overcrowded health facilities endanger the people of Ecuador. Despite being an oil-producing country, Ecuador’s economic resources cannot surmount these threats. Twenty-two percent of all Ecuadorians live in poverty, particularly in non-urban areas, where approximately 42 percent of rural residents are poor. Below are three solutions to the question of how to help people in Ecuador:

  1. On April 16, 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the nation of Ecuador killing a reported 676 people and injuring 16,600. More than a year later, foreign aid is still needed to assist the country with this tragedy.The earthquake left 250,000 children and adolescents in need of relief. Many continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or are sick due to unsanitary conditions and lack of water or food. Hundreds of children are still living in shelters. Help is needed to rebuild structurally sound homes. Non-government agencies, such as SOS Children’s Villages, are supporting this process.
  2. Seventy-eight percent of Ecuadorian girls experience domestic violence. Roughly 69 percent of girls between the age of 10 and 15 are victims of sexual assault. Six out of 10 women in Ecuador suffer some form of sexual violence.The Fundacion Bolivar Education sponsors the Center for Women Struggling with Domestic Violence program in Quito, Ecuador. Volunteers are needed to assist psychology professionals with therapy. Additional help is needed performing administrative tasks to support the social workers and find sources of funding.
  3. While public healthcare is free in Ecuador, rural medical facilities are overcrowded. Volunteers are needed to assist medical personnel. Medical professionals who would like to know how to help the people in Ecuador should contact Volunteer Forever. Similarly, dental professionals can find volunteer placement through the American Dental Association website.

Additional information on how to help people in Ecuador is available on the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Ecuadorian Red Cross website. The IFRC touches 150 million lives and works through the generosity of 17 million volunteers.

Heather J. Hopkins

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Ecuador PoorEcuador’s poverty rate was 36.7 percent in 2007 and dropped to 22.9 percent in 2016. These results show that 1.4 million Ecuadorians escaped poverty within nine years. However, many Ecuadorians still live in impoverished conditions. The question is: why is Ecuador poor?

Decreasing employment rates contribute to poverty among many Ecuadorians. Ecuador’s unemployment rate rose from 3.8 percent in March 2015 to 5.7 percent the same month in 2016. Economic slowdown and several companies increasing dismissal rates are two causes behind Ecuador’s growing unemployment problem.

Ecuador has also implemented regulations that are making the country’s labor market more rigid. The regulations eliminated hiring contract alternatives and could even cause economic slowdown. Ecuador’s economic model being based on public expenditure could contribute to a weakened economy, as well.

Natural disasters also contribute to Ecuador’s poverty. In April 2016, the country had an earthquake that killed more than 670 residents, injured 5,000 and left 80,000 homeless. The earthquake also exposed prolonged problems related to Ecuador’s poverty problem that cannot be easily solved. Rural areas are especially at risk, with poor water systems and water-borne diseases.

Ecuador’s poverty is carried from one generation to the next, resulting in 70 percent of the country’s children living impoverished lifestyles. Children International, a nonprofit organization, is teaching children valuable skills that can help them break the poverty cycle. The organization’s Social and Financial Education program, for example, teaches Ecuadorian kids how to be responsible citizens and save money.

Children International is also working to help Ecuador’s unemployed residents, especially the country’s 25 percent of unemployed teens. The organization’s “Helping Overcome Poverty through Education” (HOPE) Fund helps Ecuadorian teens afford college. Children International’s other program, “Into Employment,” provides job training and placement opportunities for participants.

Why is Ecuador poor? Because in addition to rising unemployment rates, many Ecuadorians overlook the economic benefits of conserving native forests. Fortunately, the country’s government has established a Socio Bosque (Forest Partners) program that provides Ecuadorian landowners and communities with economic incentives based on the number of forests they help to protect.

In Feb. 2017, Ecuadorians voted for a runoff election between two presidential candidates (Lenín Moreno and Guillermo Lasso) who had different approaches to reviving Ecuador’s economy. Moreno promised to build houses for Ecuador’s 191,000 poorest people, while Lasso promised to trim government spending and cut taxes. Moreno won the election and became Ecuador’s new president in May.

Why is Ecuador poor? Because natural disasters, economic struggles and poverty cycles can affect Ecuadorians and their families for generations. The problem could be remedied under Moreno’s legislation, especially with the president’s plan to provide housing for Ecuador’s impoverished residents. Children International’s efforts to educate Ecuador’s children could help the country’s future generations escape poverty as well.

Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

The instability of the Ecuadorian economy carries broader implications on the health of citizens nationwide.

Ecuador is a developing country highly dependent on the export of petroleum and agricultural products for economic growth. Although the country has seen improvements in its health care system through the efforts of President Rafael Correa since 2007, many public hospitals are in poor condition and often lack necessary supplies to tend to the high demand of patients. Private hospitals and clinics, on the other hand, are well equipped but too expensive for a large part of the population.

Mumps and Tetanus

Several common diseases in Ecuador continue to take a toll on the population. Mumps and tetanus are just two examples. According to the World Health Organization, the number of reported mumps cases in Ecuador has increased and remained relatively constant since 1980. While 799 cases were reported in 2012, approximately 1,400 cases have been reported on average from 2013 to 2016. The number of tetanus cases has also increased since 2012, from 27 to 52 last year. These, however, are the least of the country’s problems.

Communicable Diseases

Many common diseases in Ecuador are communicable diseases. The World Health Organization reports that 18 percent of all 81,000 deaths in 2016 resulted from communicable diseases and nutritional conditions. Due to environmental conditions, smoking habits and malnutrition, tuberculosis is one of the most common health problems in Ecuador.

The World Health Organization documents approximately 14,000 cases annually. Hepatitis A and typhoid fever are the most common diseases transmitted through food and water. Yellow fever, dengue and malaria are the most common diseases transmitted by insects, especially mosquitos. Dengue fever is particularly common in all regions of the country, as no immunization or specific treatment currently exists.

Non-communicable Diseases

Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease also negatively affect Ecuador’s population. The World Bank found that the mortality rate per 100,000 people from non-communicable diseases increased an average of 1.5 percent each year since 1990. The World Health Organization reported that in 2016, cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease accounted for 46 percent of all deaths.

Smoking and alcohol were the two most prevalent risk factors, alongside dietary issues caused by high intakes of sodium and low intakes of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and proteins.

Nutrition

Indeed, nutrition or rather, lack thereof, is another one of Ecuador’s major health issues and is often a root cause of many common diseases in Ecuador. In 2006, roughly 25.8 percent of children under 5 years old suffered from chronic malnutrition, and in 2013, government data showed the rate of chronic malnutrition in children under 5 years old remained at approximately 26 percent. This trend most directly relates to Ecuador’s ongoing socioeconomic disparities and status as a developing nation.

Today, a decade after Correa took office, Ecuador’s public health care system is ranked as one of the best in South America. Since Correa’s health care policies have been implemented, the government has constructed over 46 health centers and 12 hospitals throughout the country. The number of free consultations has also increased from 20.3 million in 2007 to 39 million in 2015.

Visiting a general practitioner costs only $25 to $35 while visiting a specialist costs as low as $30 to $40, and a thirty-minute session with a psychiatrist costs just $30 to $50. Outpatient surgeries cost around $125.

Given the prevalence of certain non-communicable and communicable diseases. However, much still needs to be done before citizens are guaranteed equal standards of health care across all socioeconomic barriers.

Katherine Wang

Photo: Flickr