ChildFund’s Work in Ecuador
Ecuador is located in Northwestern South America in the Andean region and is characterized by its ethnic, cultural and geographical diversity. After decades of economic and political crisis, which profoundly affected the levels of poverty in the population, especially the indigenous, the country in recent years has made important structural reforms that have enabled it to improve the growth rates and income levels of its population. However, there are still major challenges to sustaining these achievements and eradicating the persistent social and economic inequality that mostly affects the indigenous populations living in rural areas.
In Ecuador, 5.7 million children and adolescents form the population group under age 18; this represents 39.23 percent of the Ecuadorean population. About 1.8 million live in poverty, and 1.7 million in extreme poverty, a situation that makes them less able to exercise their fundamental rights, such as access to health, education, protection and participation, among others.
The most excluded child population has high rates of malnutrition, which reaches levels of up to 53 percent in some areas. As a result, children suffer severe language impairments and, thus, difficulties in interaction. In many cases, this is irreversible and affects their future development.
In the field of education, 390,000 children ages 5 to 17 do not attend regular education programs, and only 7 percent of young people living in rural areas have completed high school. In recent years, according to population statistics related to youth, who number 1.8 million, there is an alarming increase in teenage deaths from preventable causes such as traffic accidents (33 percent), suicide (11 percent) and other accidents (45.21 percent).
The percentage of teenage mothers is growing, which implies not only health risks to mother and child, but also implications for the future endeavors of these young mothers who are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion.
ChildFund has operated in Ecuador since 1985, working in partnership with community-based organizations and local government institutions to implement programs and projects focused on the development of children living in conditions of vulnerability and exclusion. At present, ChildFund operates in five provinces and six areas, Carchi, Imbabura, Northwestern Pichincha, Quito, Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, benefiting 574 communities, 110,000 children and family members.
ChildFund's commitment in Ecuador is to continue strengthening the capacity of its local partner organizations so they lead the development of their communities by providing sustainable solutions to the problems affecting children and families.
ChildFund’s main strategic partners in each of the areas are federations, groups of community associations whose representatives are local leaders. ChildFund empowers these organizations through funding from sponsorship donations, which support the federations’ Area Strategic Plans.
Each federation seeks partnerships and alliances with institutions whose expertise allows them to perform, provide technical guidance and co-finance activities planned to achieve a broad, deep and lasting impact on the lives of children and communities.
The executing or implementing partner organizations are defined in relation to their respective projects’ needs, and they provide technical and organizational resources as well as operational and programmatic infrastructure.
The partnerships with ChildFund enable federations to build capacity at all levels of their local organizational structures so that they may become strong voices on public platforms, developing relationships within local governments and in connection with the larger government structure.
Healthy and secure infants
The program aims to
- Promote the development of the abilities and skills of children according to their age.
- Build capacity in families for the care and stimulation of children under 5 years of age.
- Enable everyday family activities to stimulate children’s development.
To accomplish all of this, the program provides training to groups of parents and caregivers in the community on issues related to the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of children; the material focuses on nutrition, health, adequate early stimulation, music and toy making. Mothers apply this learning at home and monitor the development of their children, according to their age, using ChildFund’s Child Development Scale.
Educated and confident children
Operating within the framework of the Ministry of Education policies and regulations, ChildFund’s program provides educational equipment, builds and/or improves public infrastructure in marginal rural and urban schools, sponsors the formation of children’s clubs (recreational, cultural or educational), promotes school and after-school activities to improve the quality of learning, implements social and financial activities geared to school-age children, promotes the formation school governments and supports the improvement of parenting skills to promote and support the education and protection of their children.
Skilled and involved youth
This project promotes the participation of adolescents and youth in their communities and promotes their inclusion in development processes. It promotes the development of life and work skills through forming youth groups that are organized at the community and Cantonal levels, in addition to promoting access to alternative programs for young people over age 15. Adolescents advocate alongside their fellow citizens for the promotion and guarantee of rights, and, at the same time, they are trained in topics of their interest such as citizenship, sexuality and communication, among others.
Families and Communities Networks work in their communities to promote the development and protection of children
This project aims to promote the participation of families and community organizations in protect children and their developmental conditions by promoting the participation of women and youth in their communities and outside of them, helping them become guarantors and promoters of the rights of children.
This project aims to build the capacities of the community organizations so they will become protagonists of their own development processes. This is done by training its members in areas such as project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as other activities to strengthen participation within community organizations.