The World Bank Approves US$40 Million Loan to Support Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio Communities

The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US$40 million loan for Ecuador in the framework of a project to improve living conditions, contribute to the recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic and address barriers to education and employment access for Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio nationalities and peoples.

This investment project aims to support one million people in 15 territories covering approximately 300 parishes prioritized for their vulnerability indicators. It will contribute to guaranteeing these populations greater educational and economic opportunities, as well as a response to the Covid-19 emergency that incorporates the recognition of and respect for their worldview and development priorities.

Ecuador’s Constitution recognizes the country’s pluricultural and multicultural character. According to the latest census data (2010), more than three million Ecuadorians – 21 percent of the population – identify themselves as belonging to Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio peoples and nationalities. Of this group, 7 percent identify themselves as Indigenous, 7.2 percent as Afro-Ecuadorian and 7.4 percent as Montubio.

“Strengthening community economies means recognizing the right of peoples and nationalities to exercise their community practices that contribute to closing inequality and poverty gaps. Consolidating their economy is crucial for the country’s joint, co-responsible growth,” said Cecilia Chacón, human rights secretary of Ecuador.

Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio peoples and nationalities have had limited access to social and economic development programs. This has worsened their living conditions, as evidenced by problems such as chronic malnutrition, which affects this population group disproportionately. This is compounded by other problems, such as limited access to technological innovations and financing and to markets and buyers, which results in significant revenue losses given that intermediaries keep part of the income. Other daunting challenges are the lack of critical production factors, including information and communication technologies (ICT) and the lack of access to water and natural resources.

“This project was designed by representatives of communities and authorities, and investment priorities were directly defined with them,” said Marianne Fay, World Bank director for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. “In Ecuador, there is still a problem of inequality that particularly affects this important population group, most of which lives in poverty conditions. It is hoped that this project will favor both economic and social inclusion,” she said.

The project will enable support to initiatives of productive development, financial inclusion with gender equality, improved opportunities of access to higher education and the labor market, health care, and training in protocols for the prevention of gender violence and child abuse.

The fixed-margin loan has a maturity period of 28 years and an 11-year grace period.