The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Ecuador:
1. Food and Nutrition Security
Ecuador is not self sufficient in food production and the population has limited access to nutrition. This has led to severe nutrient deficiency symptoms in the population especially in Iron and Vitamin. Ecuador is vulnerable to natural calamities including cyclones, landslides and earthquakes and growing worries of climate change. Ecuador lacks sufficient land to produce enough food crops. The challenge for the nation is to achieve food security using better technologies and Land use Optimization. Agriculture accounted for 24% of the country’s employment and the slowest growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) took place in agriculture(2015). 10.9% of the population suffers from severe malnutrition and 6% of children suffer from stunting (2015).
2. Rainforest degradation
Ecuador is the 8th most biodiverse country on the planet and a biodiversity hotspot. Unfortunately though, the rate of deforestation is very severe in the country. The rainforest now only covers 15% of the landmass. Oil exploration is the key factor for the tremendous conversion of the rainforest into barren areas. The over-exploitation and conversion has a serious impact on the ecosystem and local health conditions, even though oil plays a significant role in the economy.
Even though the government has been trying to stabilize the fiscal conditions, it hasn’t worked for the country, owing to the unemployment rate. Nearly 35% of the population has non appropriate jobs including part time and informal ones. The main challenge of the country would be to diversify the economy and to create a skilled labor force for the modern market. These improvements can only improve the social status of the population dependent on the informal sector. Insufficient private investment , corrupt government and poor management of oil fields add up to the risks.
4. Health Sector
The wide inequality in the economy of the country is visible in its health sector. Public hospitals are poorly functioning and inadequate, whereas private hospitals are equipped with better technologies but highly expensive. Communicable and Non-Communicable diseases take a toll on the population. Unfavorable environmental conditions also worsen the situation; malaria and dengue transmitted by insects, typhoid and hepatitis spread by food and water. 15% of the reported deaths in Ecuador are due to communicable diseases. Along with the transmitted diseases, poor nutrition and smoking is also on the rise among the population. 65% of hospital institutions are private whereas 25% of them belong to the public sector.
5. Governance challenges
Ecuador faces a fractured political system . The lack of transparency in the election and procedure has led to public outrage from various sections of society . The Chief national authority is criticized for the poor electoral systems and delayed results in the country. Political pluralism and participation is poor as smaller political organizations find it difficult to get themselves established within the system. Weak judiciary and corruption is creating obstacles for a transparent governance.