USAID has worked in Ecuador since 1961 to advance Ecuador’s economic and social development, preserve its environment, respond to natural disasters, and enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians. Although USAID closed its Mission in Quito in September 2014, it continued to support work to improve the lives of the Ecuadorian people uninterrupted and reopened its office in 2020 and expanded bilateral and regional programs.
Following his inauguration in May 2017, former President Lenin Moreno welcomed greater international cooperation, including with the United States. USAID matched these welcoming steps by re-initiating its partnership with the Government of Ecuador (GOE) through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 2019.
USAID has now re-engaged with Ecuador by opening an Office in Quito in 2020, negotiating a Development Objective Grant Agreement (DOAG), and expanding its bilateral and regional programs in the country to demonstrate its commitment to supporting Ecuador. This Strategic Framework recognizes the potential for fluidity in the Ecuadorian political context, with presidential elections scheduled for 2023 and 2025, and fluidity in the context of USAID’s funding levels and the Agency begins to re-engage in Ecuador. Despite this uncertainty, USAID’s involvement will continue to be catalytic in supporting Ecuador’s self-reliance by building local capacity while expanding partnerships with domestic and international stakeholders, such as the private sector, other donor countries, different Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and academia.
While Ecuador ranks relatively high in capacity and commitment in its Country Roadmap, the country continues to encounter significant development challenges. These include rebuilding democratic structures, protecting its environment, reducing crime and violence, creating conditions favorable for accelerated economic growth including investment and employment, integrating a large influx of migrants into its society and economy, promoting entrepreneurship, women’s economic empowerment, and social inclusion, and responding to medium- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges. The Ecuador Roadmap demonstrates the strength of civil society and the effectiveness of the media. By leveraging these strengths, USAID and local partners will have an opportunity to impact other areas where Ecuador scores are lower, such as government capacity, business environment and accountable governance. A strong civil society and media can greatly influence awareness of access to rights and good governance as well as engaging the private sector to promote sustainable economic growth that improves the business enabling environment while incorporating environmental compliance and corporate transparency.
Ecuador’s recent legacy of closer relations with China has left lasting challenges, as the country is saddled with an unfavorable and opaque debt agreement with China—made more onerous by recent historic drops in the price of oil—and large-scale infrastructure projects that have failed to deliver promised results. USAID will offer a more open and inclusive model for the GOE to provide for sustainable economic development that appropriately balances the rights of its people and its environment. Another strategy USAID will employ to increase the sustainability of its programming will be increasing private sector engagement in programs to ensure buy-in from Ecuadorian and multinational corporations. USAID’s five-year Strategic Framework will initially focus on bilateral programs in the democracy, environment, and energy sectors, while leaving open the possibility of working in additional sectors critical to Ecuador’s successful journey to self-reliance, including economic and social development, education, and support for the long-term socio-economic integration of migrants in host communities, if funding becomes available.