QUITO — What once was the Northern Incan Empire, the country of Ecuador has historically faced many hurdles, for instance, Spanish rule and recent political instability. Although the nation has made tremendous effort and progress towards diminishing poverty, hunger in Ecuador remains a prominent concern.
Natural disasters commonly affect the growth of the country. Soil erosion, climate change and earthquakes contribute to the lack of stable food supply for the inhabitants. In 2016, an earthquake hit the northern coast and resulted in reconstruction costs equivalent to approximately 3 percent of the national GDP.
Furthermore, the earthquake displaced 9,500 people in the city of Esmeraldas itself. Refugees were stranded in a situation with insufficient food and clean water. The damage the earthquake caused doesn’t end there. It destroyed the boats and equipment on which many farmers and fishermen relied.
Bolival and Daule are examples of cities that depended on shrimp farming to employ 50 percent of their populations. Without their equipment, they faced food and money shortages. Luckily, the NGO Action Against Hunger took the initiative to help them rebuild their necessities.
Although the country is considered to be an upper-middle-income country, 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Refugees are specifically prone to hunger, with 64 percent lacking “adequate access to food,” according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Subpar living situations and a lack of nutrition education result in unhealthy diets. Most Ecuadorians do not consume enough fruits and vegetables to meet basic nutrition benchmarks. This directly impacts children under the age of five, who suffers from a 23.9 percent malnutrition rate.
Organizations such as the World Food Programme have made significant progress alleviating hunger in Ecuador. It provides “cash-based assistance” to targeted populations of refugees, internally displaced people and migrants. This money goes towards buying fresh produce with higher nutrition values than the refugees could afford otherwise.
Additionally, the WFP provides educational services to make Ecuadorians more aware of the importance of their diet. With government support, and further efforts by organizations such as the WFP and Action Against Hunger, hunger in Ecuador is likely to be a problem of the past.
– Tanvi Wattal