Back in Ecuador: Collective action to face the COVID crisis

Upon my graduation from the M.Sc. Tropical Forestry on January 2020 I started to get ready to go back home. By the beginning of March, my plan was to stay in Europe for a couple more weeks, spending some time with people that I would not meet soon. But when the Ecuadorian government announced the international borders closure due to the corona virus pandemic, I had to take the next flight back to Ecuador. The trip was long and stressful, but as always, once I arrived home, I felt I never had left.

I immediately kept looking for jobs and after some weeks and many negatives, I started working in Zona Garden, a medium-sized company that does landscaping. I oversee the urban agriculture department, where, among other things we build home gardens. These are implemented as small agroforestry systems inside the city.

But not everybody has an opportunity to work, specially under the strict restrictions imposed due to the sanitary emergency. In fact, many people have no means to sustain their households anymore. The desperate situation that the country is facing is not a secret to the international community. The pandemic came to deepen and make visible the multiple difficulties that the nation was already going through, placing it in a critical situation, not only at the health level, but also at the economic, social and socio-environmental level. The combination of structural problems with those of a conjunctural nature places the country in front of a huge challenge.

One of the major structural problems are the primary exporter model dependent on extractivism, the concentration of wealth, the pronounced external indebtedness, the absence of its own currency, the alarming corruption, among others. This panorama is exacerbated with the collapse of oil prices, which constitutes the main export product and represents an average of 40% of the general state budget (GK, 2020).

Different from other Latin American countries, the state in Ecuador has no economic capital to support families that depend on a daily income from informal jobs. The government aims to deliver around a million food rations, but in the country, there are around 4.3 million people in need (INEC 2019). Poverty is the reason for many to breach the quarantine restrictions and work, regardless of the sanitary emergency.

Today, 2nd of June 2020, is day 82nd since the quarantine started in Ecuador. Many people haven’t gone back to their jobs, which means many people have no food or savings anymore. Fortunately, a few civil initiatives and companies have started to contribute and deliver food rations to the households that do not get support from the government. We, the authors, our family, and friends in Ecuador have donated food baskets to 16 families to help them overcome the crisis. As much as this could have relieved them, we know that this is a temporary aid and that next month people will be in a similar situation.

We aim to bring food baskets to these 16 families in the next weeks, and hopefully help others if we receive more support. This may not have an impact in the long-term but will certainly relief the desperate situation that many families are going through.

Maria Noelle, Joaquin and Nicole Acosta sorting out food for the baskets © Ivonne Vasconez.

If you would like to help these families in Ecuador, you can donate to this bank account:

ANA NICOLE ACOSTA VASCONEZ

DE12 8504 0000 0210 0436 00

BIC COBADEFFXXX

With the reference “Apoyandonos Ecuador”

We Will do our best to reach the people who needs the most.

References:

GK (2020). “El país enfrenta el momento más crítico de su historia por la caída del precio del petróleo, según el Presidente” (20/04/2020). Available in https://gk.city/2020/04/20/precio-petroleo-ecuador-impacto/

INEC (2019). “Pobreza”. Estadísticas Sociodemográficas y Sociales. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos. Available in https://www.ecuadorencifras.gob.ec/pobreza2/

By Nicole Acosta and María Noelle Acosta

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