Learn more about specific causes in Ecuador that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentEcuador has the highest deforestation rate and the worst environmental rating in all of South America.1 Oil exploration in recent years has devastated the environment as the country expanded economically. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy estimated that if deforestation rates continue, the Amazon rainforest will be completely gone in 40 years.2 Despite the large amounts of air and water pollution in the country, Ecuador is only responsible for 0.1% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Glacier coverage in the country has been reduced by 30%, which is dangerous for surrounding cities which have relied heavily on the glacier as a water source.3
FamilyEcuador has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in Latin and South America. A report filed in 2017 showed nearly twice the rate of murders of women (76) as occurred in the same amount of time in 2016. High-ranking political officials have vocalized support for women’s groups and the need of changing the ideas of the physical dominance of men over women. Another hotly debated issue in the country is abortion rights; nearly 130 women died in 2016 from unsafe abortion attempts.1 Ecuador does not provide women legal, health, and shelter options should they become victims of violence. There are very weak policies present in the government that punish domestic violence.2
Human RightsEcuador’s government has severely oppressed media freedom and freedom of speech in the country, frequently denouncing or prosecuting journalists or political activists. Furthermore, judicial independence continues to suffer despite legislative efforts to reform abuses of judicial independence. Moreover, protesters engaged in public displays of opposition, whether armed or not, have increasingly been tried under “terrorism and sabotage” charges, a crime which carries a prison sentence of 4-8 years.1 The National Union of Teachers was disbanded for a small issue with registration, and the government filed complaints against the Ecological Action Corporation and threatened to shut it down. These issues demonstrate the government’s suppression of rights and violation of human rights.2
EducationEducation in Ecuador is free and compulsory between ages 6 and 14.1 However, the costs of books and supplies are often prohibitive to families who want to send their children to school. The primary school enrollment rate is over 98%.2 Another criticism that citizens have had is that the compulsory education is extremely low-quality.3 The adult literacy rate in the country is 94%.4 In 2013 Ecuador implemented a new university accreditation process that has been successful in improving the quality of certain universities.5
PovertyThe high levels of Ecuadorian poverty are linked to low levels of education and a lack of access to education in rural areas. Indigenous ethnic groups of Ecuador are disproportionately affected by poverty, particularly those living in the rural highlands where there are extremely high levels of child mortality and malnutrition.1 The Borgen Project cites child labor as one of the greatest difficulties with education, because children have to work to earn the money to pay for their school uniforms, and end up falling behind in classes because of their workload.2
ReligionThe constitution of Ecuador makes provisions for religious freedom, and there have been few notable instances of religious intolerance.1 The CIA World Factbook indicates that 74% of the country identifies as Roman Catholic, 10% as evangelical Christian. The remaining percentage of the religious population consists of Muslims, Hindus, and those of indigenous and African faiths.2
Clean Water87% of Ecuador has access to improved water sources, yet this number varies depending on regional location. Only 75% of people in rural areas have access to improved water sources. Additionally, 16% of the population still lacks access to improved sanitation infrastructure.1 Quito receives all of its drinking water from creeks and rivers in the Andes, placing pressure on water supplies and creating conservation concerns. USAID and local Ecuadorian NGOs and organizations have partnered together to help bring continuous clean water to Quito. Experts assert that in order for the Condor bio-reserve to continue supplying the city with potable water, protection of the source is needed along with education of citizens about efficient usage.2
EconomyCorruption is a large problem for the Ecuadorian government, as crimes such as bribery and theft of public funds are frequent. Many laws exist without mechanisms for implementation, which often means crimes go unpunished.1 Ecuador’s government does not provide a stable and fair regulatory environment, and as a result, the overall levels of foreign investment into their economy have suffered and they currently have the lowest levels of investment in the region. The unemployment rate in Ecuador is currently 5.2%, and 26% of the population lives under the poverty line.2
GovernmentEcuador is considered one of the most corrupt countries in South America. The country has historically suffered from rampant government corruption including bribery, graft, and fraud.1 Ecuador ranks 120th out of 176 countries analyzed on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The public scored their government 31 out of 100.2 There are low levels of foreign investments and a high poverty level. The judicial system in Ecuador is very vulnerable to political influence and it lacks investigative power.3
HealthOver 6% of children in Ecuador under the age of 5 are underweight.1 Infectious diseases continue to threaten the well-being of Ecuadorian society due to inequality in access to healthcare, depending on socioeconomic status and geographic location. According to the World Health Organization, almost one-third of Ecuador’s population lack regular access to health services, while more than two-thirds have no health insurance and insufficient resources to pay for health care services.2 The maternal mortality rate is 64 deaths per 100,000 live births, and infant mortality is 17 deaths per 1,000 live births. 20% of the population is obese.3
ChildrenMajor concerns facing children in Ecuador include child marriage, poverty, child labor, and school desertion.1 22% of children are married by the time they are 18 years old, which is technically the legal age for marriage.2 Ecuador has been internationally recognized for recent advancements in policy to protect children from child labor. The government added nearly 60 labor inspectors and invested nearly $1.5 million into social services in 2016. There is still significant room for improvement and the new policies have not yet had sufficient time to positively impact child labor statistics.3
AnimalsThe Neotropical region of Ecuador is home to a variety of species. There is a variety of desert scrub, thorn forests, and semi-deciduous forests. Some of the endangered species are those that live in the increasingly rare bamboo thickets, the Atlapetes pallidiceps, Hemispingus piurae and Myrmeciza griseiceps. Threats to these species are unsustainable exploitation of resources, and other forms of habitat destruction.1
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