On the occasion of her visit to Esmeraldas and the seat of the Municipal Autonomous Government, the WFP Representative in Ecuador, Deborah Hines, in a meeting with Mayor Ernesto Estupiñán, informed about novel joint work modalities favoring the most vulnerable people, which begin this year.
Working jointly with the Esmeraldas Municipality, WFP assists with food 1.275 students in schools that receive Ecuadorian and Colombian children living in the canton. They receive flour, rice, beans, oil and sardines, which complement their school meals. The new work modality that begins in 2013, with the participation of small-scale farmers’ associations in the province, seeks to diversify the diet of schoolchildren by including fresh vegetables and fruits in their meals.
The municipal government and WFP will determine which schools and projects require fresh produce, and will contact small holder farmers’ associations that can offer these products. These associations, whether from Esmeraldas or other cantons, will agree with the Esmeraldas Municipal Government the delivery of their products to the schools on a weekly basis.
Thanks to this modality, the children’s diet is improved, small producers benefit by increasing their income, and schools and other beneficiaries (like nursing homes) receive good quality fresh products at a fair price.
Among the most vulnerable people living in Esmeraldas are families living in poor communities and those that cross the border from Colombia, fleeing the violence, and seeking refuge in Ecuador. WFP is supporting the integration process of these Colombian families and helping to improve living conditions in communities by mainly focusing in women and their empowerment.
After her meeting at the Municipality, Deborah Hines informed that WFP and the local government of Esmeraldas “have agreed to continue the collaboration and to expand activities, working more closely with the most vulnerable, in neighbourhoods prone to disasters and with a high concentration of Colombian refugees, in order to improve food security and promote integration and solidarity between the two nationalities.”
The World Food Programme works in the province of Esmeraldas since 2003. In order to work more closely in answer to local needs and priorities, in 2012 a WFP satellite office opened in the Esmeraldas municipal building, with local government support.
WFP works in Ecuador in coordination with the national and local governments in food and nutritional security initiatives, training in nutrition, assistance to vulnerable groups with emphasis in women, adaptation to climate change and emergency preparedness and response.