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In recent years Ecuador has seen a growth in its GDP, resulting in declining poverty levels and increased investments in social policies, infrastructure, health and education.  However, the current economic slowdown, driven by declining oil prices and other factors, may undermine this positive trend. 

Ecuador is also highly prone to natural disasters, resulting in loss of life, livelihoods and infrastructure. In April 2016, a devastating earthquake struck the northern coast, and reconstruction costs were estimated at nearly 3 percent of the GDP.

Vulnerability to natural disasters, soil erosion, environmental degradation and climate change threaten the sustainability of food systems. For these reasons, strengthening preparedness and response mechanisms, as well as enhancing the resilience of communities and individuals to adverse events, is an area of growing interest for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government.

To "leave no one behind", as mandated by the 2030 Development Agenda and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 on ending hunger, it is essential to assist the most vulnerable populations in meeting their basic food and nutrition needs all year long. WFP’s food assistance consists in the provision of vouchers to purchase fresh, nutritious and healthy foods, and is conditional on the attendance of nutrition trainings. To combat malnutrition in children, WFP also focuses on the first 1,000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday, ensuring that pregnant and nursing women have access to, and information on,  the nutrients required for the full development of their babies.

By helping people meet their food needs through voucher programmes, WFP enables smallholder farmers - 64 percent of the agricultural population - to increase their incomes by improving productivity, diversifying food production and accessing formal markets.

Since WFP first started in the country in 1964, its role has changed considerably, from the delivery of programmes (such as school meals), to an increasingly advisory role, providing the Government of Ecuador with technical and policy support in its fields of expertise. WFP’s work is aligned with national priorities, and aims to build synergies with the Government’s social protection safety nets. An example of this was seen in the response to the 2016 earthquake, when WFP integrated its cash-based assistance into the national safety nets system. This resulted in a considerable reduction in the time spent re-registering beneficiaries and monitoring operations, and strengthened WFP's partnership with the Government.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Ecuador

Food assistance and nutrition
WFP is currently providing emergency food assistance to more than 280,000 refugees, displaced people, migrants, returnees and other vulnerable Ecuadorians to purchase fresh and nutritious products. Targeted populations receive nutrition education and trainings to improve their livelihoods. As part of the COVID-19 crisis response, WFP has been supporting the Government’s social protection programme through cash-based transfers (CBT) which focuses in Ecuadorian families severely affected by the pandemic, prioritizing households with pregnant and lactating women and children under five years old.
Support for smallholder farmers
WFP works to connect smallholder farmers to national and local markets and procurement systems linked to social protection schemes, so that they can provide fresh, nutritious food for WFP´s programmes such as the school meals initiative. Farmers’ organizations receive technical assistance and capacity building. As women farmers, especially indigenous ones, face particular challenges, WFP prioritizes organizations with a majority of women members, and with women in leadership positions.
Sustainable food systems
WFP is working with the Government to develop and strengthen systems for early warning, emergency preparedness and response. WFP also works with the Government to enhance the capacities of national and local institutions, vulnerable communities and individuals, to respond and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Adaptation activities are accompanied by nutritional and technical trainings.
Capacity strengthening
WFP provides advice and support to national and local institutions, including to social protection systems, in order to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition by 2021. This includes promoting and disseminating studies, research and assessments to improve the implementation of programmes linked to food security and nutrition, and to encourage the sharing of experiences and best practices through South-South cooperation.
Emergency preparedness
WFP provides technical assistance and logistic service provision to the humanitarian partners and public entities in order to improve emergency logistics coordination and supply chain management. Additionally, WPF as the leader of logistics in the Country Humanitarian Team establishes coordination for emergency preparedness with partners. WFP´s aim is to ensure that affected populations benefit from logistics support that is offered to national disaster management cells, and other humanitarian partners, in order to receive timely life-saving assistance. In 2021, WFP transported medical supplies and equipment as part of the COVID-19 response.



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