Ecuador: From Subsistence to Market

In order to ease the isolation experienced by some of Ecuador’s indigenous communities, IDLO has designed a legal model for accessing fair trade markets. The pilot phase of the initiative took place in two remote Quechua-speaking mountain settlements, Rumicorral and Ambrosio Lasso. Both communities had extremely low social indicators, with virtually no access to external markets for what was otherwise naturally organic and pesticide-free farming produce. Residents were described by young indigenous lawyer Rodrigo Naranjo Guamán as ‘yearning for the kind of knowledge that would keep the young from migrating in search of work’. There were few opportunities for economic subsistence that would also ensure social and environmental sustainability.

The intervention consisted in providing legal support and capacity building to make access to domestic and international fair trade markets a reality. We identified the legal barriers to cooperative work and access to finance, worked to improve enforcement of social and environmental standards, and raised awareness of youth and women's exclusion.