The earthquake that hit Ecuador last weekend was the worst in 70 years. And whilst Quito and most of the country were thankfully spared much damage, the effects on the coastal provinces of Manabi, Esmeraldas and Guayas have been devastating.
According to the latest official figures from the Ecuadorean government (21 April) the death toll now stands at 587 with 23,500 people left homeless. As always happens with such disasters it is the poorest people who are hardest hit as their areas are often built with low quality constructions that aren’t able to withstand such earthquakes.
This week we have been trying to explore the best way that Think Galapagos and our guests to support Ecuador in this crisis. Ecuadoreans themselves from the unaffected parts of the country are putting huge amounts of effort into the emergency response, sending food, clothes and water to the affected areas. The challenge at the moment seems to be logistical and organisational in terms of actually getting the food and water to the people who need it.
How can we help
We have identified two great grass roots efforts that are delivering aid effectively to where it is most needed. Ecuador Tent Relief, and The Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund. Here is some more information about both of these organisations and how you can help support them.
Ecuador Tent Relief
Rebuilding the parts of Ecuador which have been destroyed by the quake will take years, but for now, the families in these communities which have been reduced to rubble need shelter and safety. It will take months for even the most basic infrastructure to be put back in place so what people need are emergency shelters. The best, quickest and most cost effective way to do this is with tents.
This is a project that has been organised by some of Santiago’s friends who have teamed up with charities to organise for tents to be sent out the community of Canoa, one of those worst affected. The best way of getting equipment out there fast is to buy it direct. To this end, they have set up a wishlist on Amazon which people can use directly to purchase needed items or to donate money in the form of an Amazon Gift Card. (If you don’t have an Amazon account or this sounds too complicated, The Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund detailed below is easier to donate to…)
How It Works:
2. Items from the list are set to ship to a hangar in Miami, where a pilot connected with Surfers for a Roof in Ecuador will fly the donations to Canoa. From there, a local volunteer from Surfers for a Roof will pick up the donations and distribute them among Canoa residents accordingly.
(when purchasing items, ship them to the “ENVIOS DE SOCORRO ECUADOR (Ecuador Tent Relief)” option in your address book)
3. If you can’t donate the full cost of an item but still want to contribute you can choose to send an Amazon Gift Card (also included on the wish list) to Ecuador Emergency Tent Relief and they will pool the funds to purchase items on the wish list in order of designated priority. When purchasing the Gift Card, enter this email address firstname.lastname@example.org for it to be delivered to.
Here is the description of the vision of project by Ecuador Emergency Tent Relief:
The Big Plan:
The residents of Canoa, Ecuador are in the process of putting together a temporary settlement. It will be a city of tents, while the original urban space itself is still unliveable. The settlement will need roughly 200 family-sized tents in order to begin to accommodate everyone, as well as portable lavatories and wash places, generators, basic medical supplies, and food preparation and storage spaces.
The Immediate Goal:
Shelter, clean water, and infant care materials. The focus of Week One is to get donations going with 10 family-sized tents to provide more people with a safe space to be. Week One also includes the supplementary goals of procuring water filtration devices, infant diapers, and infant formula.
Once tent donations get off the ground, we’ll release the remainder of Week One donation needs, followed by Week Two, Week Three, Week… well, you get the point.
The Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund
The Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund (ERF) is another great grassroots effort that is being organised by Jan Niedrau, who is General Manager of Quito’s Zazu Restaurant. Over the years the Zazu has built up strong relationships with artisanal coastal fishermen who supply their restaurants. In many cases their villages have been literally flattened. This effort is focusing on sending funds as a second stage of assistance, rather than immediate relief efforts. At the moment help is pouring in from local sources (but tents or emergency shelters aren’t something that Ecuador has which is why the top project we list is so urgently needed for the emergency relief stage). Once the area is clear of rubble, we are very conscious that there will be disease, trauma, no jobs and little home. This projects aim is to get these be to help them rebuild their homes and help get them back on their feet. It is another great project, and like the tents project above, all your money you donate will be going directly to the projects in Ecuador. We will be sending more details of their projects and keeping you updated.
Here is how you can donate to The Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund:
Santiago is going to be flying out next week to Ecuador, and we will be able to give you regular updates how your support is being used. We will then be travelling out in the summer as a family and can visit the areas worse affected. At that stage, we will also be able to identify the best projects working on the ground to help people reconstruct their communities and will keep you posted!
As always, please just let us know if you need any more information and we would be delighted to help!