EkoRural is dedicated to helping people help themselves.
Through strengthening local leadership, community agency and organizational capacity, of women and men as well as children, EkoRural enables impoverished people to analyze the roots of their problems and find lasting solutions, thereby alleviating the effects of hunger, disease, and poverty.
Traditionally a farming country, Ecuador’s economy was transformed after the 1960s by the growth of industry and the discovery of oil. Yet, as in many other nations, the wealth and power of Ecuador’s elite grew prodigiously while the vast majority of Ecuadorians, especially the indigenous peoples and those of mixed descent, benefited very little. Poverty and obstacles to local development in rural Ecuador are just as challenging as in other Latin American countries which have much lower Human Developing Index and macroeconomic rankings.
Soil, water availability and seeds (genetic material), the essential elements of all agricultural systems, are under increasing stress in the central and northern Ecuadorian Sierra regions where EkoRural works. Few places in the Western hemisphere will be more affected by climate change than the Andes. Already the region is experiencing fewer, more intense rainfalls, which have produced both drought and flooding and accelerated soil erosion and the loss of soil organic matter, diminishing the soil’s capacity to capture and filter water.
At the same time, the loss of biological diversity is undermining agriculture in Andean communities. The vast majority of resource poor farmers are rapidly losing control over germplasm and genetic materials, the biological foundation for food security. Local seed sources are particularly important now that farmers, because traditional Andean crops often have a greater threshold for enduring drought and adverse conditions than do non-native crops. In recent years however, seed conservation and availability have become more insecure as a result of modern market forces as well as government “modernization”, which has led to the dismantling of public services and have effectively increased the marginalization of rural communities.
How we Work
In this context, EkoRural seeks to find families and communities that practice relatively healthy, financially successful, and sustainable lifestyles. Everywhere, in even the most difficult conditions of hardship and social marginalization, there are families that manage to live well and flourish. EkoRural searches out such “positive-deviance” and endogenous change processes as hope and inspiration for a new tomorrow.
Working in both formal and informal spaces of policy (the latter defined as peoples’ daily practices), EkoRural and its partners aim to influence how people think about, do, and organize for development.
EkoRural strategically influences local practices in two interactive social spaces:
- Depth – families, neighborhoods, communities operating in geographies and
- Breadth – knowledge systems and social networks where people define and determine institutional norms.