Source andes.info.ec / the Dawn / December 2015-. Ecuador recorded a significant reduction in poverty, in all its indicators, and begins a new year with positive figures in the social field. In 2007, 36.7% of the population lived in poverty, a figure that dropped to 22.5% in 2014; while extreme poverty in the Andean country was reduced from 12.9% in 2007 to 5.7% in 2014.
The Coordinator Minister of Social Development, Cecilia Vaca Jones, said that these achievements by the government were possible because, since day one, they’ve committed to social investment as a strategy of the National Plan for Good Living. “In this government there has been a political will, a commitment, to social development, to invest in human beings over capital“, she said.
This plan creates a framework for planning, that allows all state sectors to align to the national goals in the new development paradigm posed by the government of President Rafael Correa.
“The main goal of the National Plan for Good Living is to have a planning framework that allows all sectors to consolidate this new paradigm, which breaks with those old patterns of development that we had in our countries. And we propose to place investments in humans, in an equitable development that includes social, cultural, economic and environmental development of our peoples”, Jones told the journalists at “Ecuador no para” (in English, “Ecuador does not Stop”).
But not only was poverty reduced; there is also a more equitable distribution. What is noticeable in the reduction of the Gini coefficient*, an index that measures income inequality. Ecuador went from 0.55% to 0.47% and its prioritary goal is to reach 0%.
Also, investment in the social sector has tripled; in 2006 1.976 million dollars were invested while in 2016 an investment of 6.819 million dollars is estimated as established in the general budget. Which means that the government went from investing $ 144 per capita in 2006 to $ 575 in 2015.
Another achievement is that child labor in Ecuador fell from 12.5% in 2007 to 5.5% in 2014. On the other hand, the Integrated Child Development Services at the Children’s Centres of Good Living (CIBV) attended 3.491.295 boys and girls, during the eight years of government.
Education, health and human development voucher
According to Vaca, the paradigm of good living Ecuador has put development of human beings in the spotlight, so there is now a strong investment in health and education, which will ensure that, in the future, society has enough knowledge “to generate different types of income to sustain all these policies that we are generating”.
In education, the government has so far opened 50 Millennium Educational Units and the goal is to open 200 more by the end of 2017. The government also provides books, uniforms and free meals for students. In health, the government has delivered 20 new hospitals, built 50 Type A healthcare centers, 2 Type B healthcare centers and 9 Type C healthcare centers, and 50 more are being built.
They created the welfare program called Human Development Voucher, that allows people from the most vulnerable sectors of the country have a fixed income that allows them to survive. The Ecuadorian state, in return for this money, asks families to send tehir children to free schools and to care for their health in public hospitals.
There is also the Joaquín Gallegos Lara bonus, for families with a disabled member. “These are not subsidies but policies that are temporary, aimed at protecting the consumption of the poor, seeking to change the situation of these homes”, Vaca said.
The state of Ecuador has given out 1.334.191 Human Development credits from 2007 to 2014 as a result, 33% of the beneficiaries have improved their income. Adding to that is the acknowledgment of household work as work, which allows people who do them to have an old age pension so they can rest when they reach old age.
“Now my work is acknowledged”, read the T-shirts of these two Ecuadorian women
Ecuador met the Millennium Development Goals
Ecuador’s social achievements are reflected in the performance of the 8 Millennium Development Goals** and 21 targets set by the member countries of the United Nations in 2000. Now the country wants to meet 17 new goals and 169 targets that aim at addressing the main economic, social, environmental and governance challenges that humanity faces today.
“Nine of these 17 objectives are related to issues that are closely linked to social matters (…) we continue to insist on eradicating extreme poverty, but above all, the objectives of sustainable development to promote fairness and equality are very interesting” said the minister.
The agenda seeks to end poverty and hunger worldwide by 2030, to combat inequalities within and between countries, to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies, to protect human rights and ensure a lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.
In this sense, the country has some major challenges for its implementation, such as strengthening the quality, opportunity and innovation in information, adapting the Agenda to local realities and needs, elaborating migration policies and empowering citizens, social organizations and the private sector.
* The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example, levels of income). A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has the same income). A Gini coefficient of one (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values (for example, where only one person has all the income or consumption, and all others have none). However, a value greater than one may occur if some persons represent negative contribution to the total (for example, having negative income or wealth). For larger groups, values close to or above 1 are very unlikely in practice.
** United Nations Millennium Development Goals: The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions.