The communities with whom EkoRural works are located in fragile and degraded mountain ecosystems where climate change is altering rainfall patterns and groundwater availability, increasing the challenges for smallholder agricultural production. The majority of men migrate to other areas for work, and so women have taken on increased responsibilities in managing their families, agricultural production and community organization and leadership.
Strengthening capacity for community-led development in marginalized rural communities is therefore central to EkoRural’s mission. We support locally-led models of sustained change that allow people to improve their lives (stronger communities producing more food, more income, reducing costs, improving health and regenerating landscapes) and can be multiplied and spread by local people to other families and communities.
As such, EkoRural seeks to strengthen the innovative capacity of rural and urban people, based on their ability to discover, analyze and generate solutions. This is what we call endogenous development.
As positive changes are achieved in these communities, community leaders often spread effective approaches to nearby families and communities. For this reason, EkoRural works closely with community organizational structures (community councils and traditional organizations) and their leaders. Women play a lead role in our activities.
We also seek to document the process and lessons of such work for the sharing with other organizations.
EkoRural currently works with communities in the Ecuadorian Highlands that lie between 2,500 and 4,000 meters above sea level. Work is divided between two main regions:
- Central Highlands (Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Bolivar)
- Northern Highlands (Carchi, Imbabura)
Key strategies include:
- Participatory planning to define local priorities and assets
- Strengthening local organizations to lead the development process
- Support for farmer-experimentation to identify effective agroecological practices that sustainably improve production
- Action-learning to improve water harvesting and micro-irrigation, in order strengthen community resilience in the face of climate change
- Strengthening local seed varieties (improved quality, reproduction, storage and distribution)
- Connecting small-scale farmers to urban markets (strengthening local food systems or canastas comunitarias), to increase income generation for rural communities and provide low-income urban families with access to healthy, affordable local food
- Community health and reproductive health