Land degradation and the link to increased livelihood vulnerabilities among indigenous populations in the Andes of Ecuador

WashU affiliated authors: Ivy Blackmore, Lora Iannotti, Carolyn Lesorogol (Brown School)

Abstract: There is a long history of oppression, poverty, and struggle for survival among the indigenous populations of the Ecuadorian Sierra. Using mixed methods, this article examines the natural resource trends creating livelihood challenges for three rural communities in the Andes of Ecuador and how those challenges are impacting the population’s livelihood security and resilience. Study results indicate that soil degradation linked to land overuse and erosion have led to decreasing agriculture production and economic hardship. This challenging dynamic has led many community members to migrate to cities in search of work and negatively impacted the health of young children and their mothers. The high prevalence of low height-for-age (59.5%), low weight-for-age (26.1%), and anaemia (78%) in children under 5 and an anaemia prevalence of 30% among mothers highlights the severity of malnutrition among the population. These results suggest the need for an intervention that sustainably addresses the agricultural production and consumption challenges faced by the three communities.