National Transformation Can Inspire Local Progress

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

Ecuador is undergoing a political transformation of undeniably profound and long-lasting significance. As with most South American countries this is a time of widespread change and realignment for many reasons, but in Ecuador there is an additional uniquely internal factor that stands out above all others. It is rewriting the national constitution.

President Rafael Correa put the issue of constitutional reform on the ballot last year as a fundamental part of his revolución ciudadana (citizen’s revolution) and received overwhelming electoral approval for the process. Unlike Hugo Chavez’s recent failure with a similar measure in Venezuela, the need is more clearly evident here because of a historically deadlocked legislature that is incapable of effectively governing the country. An Assembly was popularly elected to carry out the process of receiving suggestions and framing resolutions for the new document. It is presently meeting in the city of Montecristi only a few hours from Bahia de Caraquez with a deadline to finish by the end of May. The proposed constitution will then be debated (no doubt vigorously due to resistance by the minority opposition) and approval by plebiscite sought before the end of this year.

The scale of change will undoubtedly be enormous whether or not agreement on all of the proposals is reached. The main areas for revision are divided into different mesas (tables) seating equal numbers of Assembly members. They range through topics from composition of the legislature and terms of office to natural resources and education. As an example of the generally forward-looking consciousness at these meetings, Mesa 1 – Derechos y Garantias Fundamentales  (Table 1 – Fundamental Rights and Guarantees) is currently discussing whether Nature itself should have rights.

On the local level there has been an opposite tendency. Eco-city activities in Bahia de Caraquez have seriously declined in the last few years. The most obvious symptoms are the discontinuation of the Municipio (city government) garbage separation system and disuse of an extensive compost-making facility that previously transformed household and market organic waste into valuable soil for agriculture. There haven’t been any notable environmental initiatives by the city other than cosmetic upgrading of parks through adding plants and installing night lighting. In fact, persistent conflicts with the Municipio led to the suspension of numerous children’s Eco-Club projects sponsored by the private Center for Environmental Studies. The Municipio’s promising new Director of Environment has just resigned for a state-level job. There is universal disenchantment by the public, private organizations and businesses about whether the city is interested in genuine ecological improvement. Lack of vision or even cooperation by the Municipio isn’t the only factor. There needs to be a massive reawakening of the eco-city movement in Bahia by private individuals and businesses as well. 

Planet Drum Foundation has just developed a written mandato (mandate) for change beginning this year. It is already supported by the informal Amigos de la Eco-ciudadmade up of community representatives. Public distribution of Eco-Mandato 2008 has  begun, and hopefully members of the general public, present elected officials, and especially candidates in upcoming elections will adopt it.


(Complete Spanish language document below.)

Eco-Mandato 2008 aims at changes in four fundamental areas that require urgent attention. There could be a much longer list of environmental problems, of course, but these have been persistent difficulties and involve local bioregional realities that are experienced by everyone: water, food, soil, and development of ecological economic activities. Since the city government also administers the territory of the whole county there is a stronger emphasis on agriculture and resources than might otherwise be found.

  • Water is a primary concern considering this region’s long dry season. Reliable water isn’t easily available to the overwhelming majority of people so piped sources need to be made available. Rooftop rainwater collection systems are under-utilized and could be facilitated with city government assistance. Conservation and re-use through diversion of wastewater to gardens or toilets should be taught and encouraged. 
  • Food production by organic permaculture methods including growing native fruit trees needs to be demonstrated to both rural agricultural producers and city gardeners. The public should be informed about health and ecological benefits to stimulate demand for farm products grown in this manner.
  • Soil enrichment through production of compost should be encouraged by education and assistance with equipment. Organic wastes for this purpose must be successfully collected from households, markets and restaurants. The present massive burning of brush as a means to obtain whatever minimal nutrients are provided is ruinous in terms of soil health, erosion, river siltation, and pollution. 
  • Develop new ecological businesses by providing resources such as education, training, marketing, and use of public lands. Teach manufacturing of commercial products from recycled materials including metal, glass, plastic, and paper.



Para Hacer Bahía de Caráquez una Eco-Ciudad

El 13 de marzo, 2008

La Fundación Planet Drum y Los Amigos de la Eco-Ciudad de Bahia de Caráquez, Canton Sucre exhortamos acción inmediata en las siguientes áreas básicas públicas para lograr un equilibrio con el medio ambiente y ganar el reconocimiento como una verdadera eco-ciudad.

Estas acciones deben ser asumidas por todos los miembros de la ciudadanía en general, empresas privadas y el gobierno. Para lograr ser una eco-ciudad las agencias publicas y oficiales tendrán interés genuino en estas acciones. Además formarán parte de plataformas de campañas de candidatos políticos futuros para responder al impulso de la población.

  • Agua – Desarrollar las fuentes necesarias para la disponibilidad de suficiente de agua segura para todos. A la misma vez, promover la conservación y reutilización de agua, por ejemplo: recolección de agua de lluvia, dirigir aguas servidas a jardines y uso de llaves de flujo reducido, entre otros. Repartir la información y recursos necesarios para realizar estas metas a todos los usuarios públicos y privados.
  • Agricultura Sustentable – Proveer educación para la producción de alimentos con prácticas de permacultura bioregional para cultivar cosechas orgánicas que sean más saludables y conserven el suelo y agua. Promover información e instrucciones sobre agro-silvicultura para que agricultores y jardineros aumenten el uso de árboles nativos de frutas comerciables y la alimentación de ganado.
  • Mejora del Suelo – Enseñar técnicas de separación de desechos orgánicos e inorgánicos y la producción de abono a gran escala e individual a todos los agricultores para reemplazar las practicas de corte y quema, con métodos de limpieza y fertilización orgánicos de los terrenos.
  • Empresas Ecológicas y Trabajo – Ayudar el crecimiento de nuevas empresas y organizaciones ecológicas con recursos como educación, capacitación, marketing y terrenos de uso público. Enseñar la fabricación de productos comerciales de materiales reciclados incluyendo residuos de metales, vidrios, plásticos, y papeles.

Más Información:

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