Written by Nana Adjekum
On Tuesday 12th March 2013, Grassroot Diplomat was invited to the University College London for a meeting with the Ecuadorian Secretary of State, Dr Fander Falconi. Dr Falconi is responsible for the country's economic and social development plan. The main aim of the talk was to discuss the new direction that Ecuador is embarking on and how this new change relates to their relations with their Latin American neighbors.
Ecuador in the past has been labeled one of the poorest countries in Latin America. According to World Vision, eight percent of workers are unemployed and about thirty five percent live below the poverty line. The schools in Ecuador are free but by operating on low income, the sustainability of children's education falls on the parents. UNICEF claims that indigenous and Afro Ecuadorian families are more likely to grow up in poverty and lack access to education. Baring these challenges in mind and with a newly elected president Rafael Correa, Dr Falconi has faced these problems head on and positive outcomes are emerging.
During the talk, Dr Falconi explained that in the years of 2007-2012, Ecuador's growth rate was higher than the average Latin American country. Their economy is growing on average five percent each year. Additionally, external debt has been managed effectively which has encouraged European countries such as Greece to take heed. Ecuador has done the opposite to World Bank and the IMF suggestions and has put more emphasis on public investment which in return has worked to their economic advantage. One of Ecuador's main visions is to eradicate poverty through socialist good living. This idea has resulted in free healthcare for the people of Ecuador. They have decreased child work labour and have increased the number of children in school. Although Ecuador's economy relies heavily on exporting their natural resources, they are working on using their natural resources internally and more effectively. They are also looking on moving away from finite resources and seeking other options in the next few years.