For the past 16 years, the fishing villages of the inner gulf of Guayaquil have sought to protect the surrounding mangroves whilst exploiting them sustainably. Local fishermen’s organisations administrate, collaboratively and autonomously, an area spread over 11.000 hectares for which they hold a permit of use, or concession, issued by the Ecuadorian government’s environmental department. This area and its surroundings are also protected by international law through the Ramsar convention.
The communities' livelihood and culture are strongly interwoven with the mangroves, which is why the aim of the concession is to protect the forest whilst ensuring dignity and quality of life for its inhabitants. The German NGO Schutzwaldverein e.V. has been supporting the efforts of local communities for the past 15 years. Thus, for us, a collaborative partnership that attaches great importance to the autonomy and self-determination of the mangrove swamp communities, and that views sustainable development as a an exercise in collective learning is primordial. Again in the coming year, we wish to support the communities' initiatives in the fields of education and sustainable basic services, together with our Ecuadorian partner organisation Cerro Verde. So, after several months of preparation, seven volunteers of the NGO Schutzwald will accompany projects in various communities. They will start in the summer of 2017 and will stay for twelve months. As Schutzwald is a strictly voluntary NGO, donations will be used entirely for the work in the communities in Ecuador. In the village of Santa Rosa, Yannick, with the help of Katrin, will support several projects, realised by the communities themselves, for sustainable basic services and education on the islands. Yannick and Katrin will mainly be active in the areas of drinking water supply and waste water disposal. Katrin will rotate between islands and will also provide support in the area of health care. In Bellavista in the coming year, the setting up of a drinking water supply and associated community structures will have special priority. During the past ten years, we have already accompanied similar projects in Cerrito de los Morreños and Puerto Libertad.
The setting up of an ecological community tourism program in Cerrito de los Morreños will be backed by Pia, who will also dedicate herself to cultural activities such as Cerrito's music group. In the Communities of Bellavista, Cerrito de los Morreños, Puerto Libertad and, for the first time, Puerto Roma, volunteers Isabella, Moritz (Güttler), Moritz (Götz), and Henning will work primarily in the educational field. This includes, among others, English and computer lessons, environmental studies, and the support of University scholarship holders of the NGO Schutzwaldverein. Along with this, the implementation of various environmental and social projects in each community is part of their area of activity. Further down the line, two Ecuadorian volunteers from the permit area will be helped with preparation for travel to Germany in the summer of 2018 to accomplish a year of volunteering.