Adapting to climate change and ensuring food security in the highlands of Ecuador

Local communities in the highlands of Ecuador have felt the direct impact of climate change through the loss of agricultural yields, fishery and tourism. Rosa Maria Cacuango, a smallholder farmer, has directly faced this challenge. Lack of rainfall and frequent droughts led to food insecurity as well as loss of income among her community. But now, Rosa Maria is more resilient, thanks to the “Enhancing Resilience of Communities to the Adverse Effects of Climate Change on Food Security” or the FORECCSA project, implemented by the government with WFP’s support.

CAYAMBE, ECUADOR – Rosa María is a smallholder farmer and works her small plot of land with her family. Like other members of her community, she must adapt to a changing climate. In the past, when rains failed, it affected how much food she and her family could consume and sell to make a living. Decrease in production meant she had to decide between income and consumption for herself and her family. Climate change is making these failures of the rains more frequent.  

In response to Ecuador’s national needs and priorities, WFP initiated the project “Enhancing Resilience of Communities to the Adverse Effects of Climate Change on Food Security” or simply the FORECCSA project (using its Spanish acronym) on the request of the Ministry of Environment, and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Jubones River Basin Public Consortium, and the Provincial Government of Pichincha in 2011. The FORECCSA Project is funded by the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund and receives support from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, as well as local Governments. 

Improving food production and incomes in dry areas


Rosa María Cacuango (2nd from the left) Photo Credit: WFP/Zachary Morrice

FORECCSA´s objective is that communities of the province of Pichincha, including Cayambe, and the Jubones River Basin in Ecuador adapt to the effects of climate change so that their food security is protected.

In San Luis de Ichisí, the neighbourhood where Rosa Maria lives, the FORECCSA Project constructed a reservoir with a 20,000m³ capacity for irrigating 120 hectares in order to guarantee water for cultivation purposes during the dry season. 

One of the crops being irrigated using the new reservoir is the Lupini bean. Grown in the high attitudes of Cayambe, in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador, the white lupini bean is a legume rich in vegetable protein, calcium and fiber. The community decided to plant seeds for this plant since they have known how to cultivate it. Rosa María also knows how to prepare this protein rich plant using recipes passed down through generations in her family. Once cooked, Rosa Maria sells the preparation in the local markets and earns an income.

Rosa Maria prepared Lupini beans using a traditional recipe for the Day of the Rural Woman and Food in Cayambe city. On this particular day, local residents and visitors bought this delicious and nourishing traditional food - which adults and children enjoy alike - at the stand of Rosa María and her companions of the FORECCSA project. 

Generating awareness and learning from each other

On the work that she did with her companions, she is hopeful for her future. “We have made sacrifices, but we also have our reward” says Rosa Maria. “We are glad to represent FORECCSA. We are all from the same neighborhood. It has been a nice experience to be together, to work together for a result. It is nice to meet with these women. If there is something we don´t know, we learn, because what one doesn´t know, the other knows. I am very happy.” 

"We are glad to represent FORECCSA. We are all from the same neighborhood. It has been a nice experience to be together, to work together for a result. It is nice to meet with these women. If there is something we don´t know, we learn, because what one doesn´t know, the other knows. I am very happy.” – Rosa Maria

Scheduled to run for five years, the project seeks to address priorities established by national and local governments, targeting 150 communities within 50 parishes and a total of 15,000 families in the provinces of Azuay, Loja and El Oro located in the Jubones River Basin, as well as the province of Pichincha. Activities aim to address the impact of reduced precipitation levels, increasingly frequent droughts, reduction in water flows, decreased crop yields and increased fragility of ecosystems on food security.