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. The effects of malnutrition include severe language impairments; thus, children suffer difficulties in interaction. In many cases, this is irreversible and affects their future development.
The effects of poverty on children living in Ecuador extend to 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 about 1.8 million youths, 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, helping them identify causes of poverty and alleviate its effects.
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.