Ecuador is a country of great social, cultural and geographical diversity, with inequality and exclusion continuing to dominate social problems. The persistence of poverty and malnutrition disproportionally affect young children, women and indigenous populations despite being classified as a “lower middle income country". Malnutrition has many faces: the national chronic malnutrition rate is approximately 26 percent, but can be as high as 92 percent of children under five in rural indigenous areas; 62,6 percent of children under 5 are afflicted with anemia and 52,6 percent of women are overweight at national level. National figures do not capture regional and urban rural disparities. The incidence of poverty (by consumption) is 38.3 percent and extreme poverty is 4.7 percent. The Gini Coefficient is 54.4, with the richest 10 percent of the population taking a 43 percent share of total income and the poorest 10 percent capturing only 1.7 percent.
Ecuador continues to be affected by the negative spillover effects of the prolonged armed conflict in Colombia, putting pressure on social services, programs and cohesion. The country is especially prone to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts and volcanic eruptions. During the last decade Ecuador suffered losses of around $US5.2 billion from natural events alone. The effects of climate change are making their mark as well, with the retreat of glaciers and the decrease in water availability and food and nutrition security.
Financial volatility also affects the food and nutrition security of the poorest population; food prices increase affecting access to staple crops. Remittances, which contribute to 5.2 percent to Ecuador's GDP, are unstable.