1.1 Ecuador Humanitarian Background

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Ecuador is exposed to extreme weather conditions and frequent natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and volcano eruptions that affect both local populations and migrants living in the country. Ecuador is also located in an area of intense seismic activity and, in 2016, Ecuador was hit by an earthquake that affected the coastal areas of the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas, killing 670 people and leaving more than 30,000 people homeless. In addition to the aforementioned, Ecuador is affected regularly by El Niño, the consequences are large floods and landslides in several areas of the country. Currently, Ecuador is facing heavy rains that are affecting cities in different regions of the country. There is a weak culture of risk prevention in the country, so many people do not know how to act in the event of a disaster occurs; therefore, capacity building on aspects related to prevention and response to natural disasters is imperative in Ecuador.

Source: Global Crisis Response Platform Humanitarian and Crisis Transition Activities.

Natural Hazards



Comments / Details






Ecuador is subject to intense and continuous geological activity due to its proximity to several geological fault lines created by movements of the Nazca Oceanic and South American Continental tectonic plates, which creates a constant threat of earthquakes of various magnitudes. Earth tremors occur frequently, although many are not felt. Generally, there are between 100 and 200 noticeable tremors (4 and above on the Richter scale) per year throughout Ecuador and most occur in coastal regions.

The 2016 Ecuador earthquake occurred on 16 April at 18:58:37 ECT, with a moment magnitude of 7.8 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). The very large thrust earthquake was centred approximately 27 km (17 mi) from the towns of Muisne and Pedernales in a sparsely populated part of the country, and 170 km (110 mi) from the capital Quito, where it was felt strongly. Regions of Manta, Pedernales, and Portoviejo accounted for over 75 percent of total casualties. Over 300 fatalities occurred in the cities of Manta and Portoviejo, both of which are in Manabí province. SENPLADES (Development Planning Secretary) reported that recovery costs exceed 330,000,000 USD.



2020-2021 Covid 19 Pandemic - Ongoing (2021)

Ecuador has confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in all 24 provinces.  The Government of Ecuador provides coronavirus-related information at this website:  The most up to date information can be found on the Ministry’s Twitter account:

ICUs and beds in Ecuador national health system.

Please see this link for the Interactive information on the operational response of the Humanitarian Country Team in Ecuador.

Courtesy of Pablo Galarza, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Dengue Fever

In 2019–2020, a large dengue fever epidemic occurred in Guayaquil, Ecuador; CDC estimated that at least 420,000 individuals were infected during the epidemic, but there were very few fatalities. The 2019-2020 period comprises a further increase in cases and one of the largest dengue outbreaks in the region with nearly 3 million cases, 8416 of them in Ecuador.


In Ecuador, Chikungunya is reported for the first time at the end of 2014 and now both arboviral diseases are priorities for public health primarily  in five locations in 4 provinces: Esmeraldas, Guayas, El Oro and Galapagos (Santa Cruz and San Cristobal).


In 1991, the first wave of cholera (7th pandemic on the south Pacific coast) is characterized by a very high attack rate and a low mortality rate (as compared to Africa), and the unexpected involvement of populations living on the high Andean plateau It is probable from the results collected in Ecuador that cholera will become endemic in Latin America.

Foot and Mouth Disease

A wide scale epidemic of Foot and Mouth disease on an unprecedented scale swept through the countryside of Ecuador in 2002, affecting cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats.

For HIV/AIDS in Ecuador, please see the UNAIDS website:

Extreme Temperatures


The El Niño climatic phenomenon exposes areas of Ecuador to the risks of climate change. These changes have caused extremely cold temperatures in Carchi, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Cañar, and Azuay, and have resulted in a hotter climate in all other parts of Ecuador.



In Ecuador, floods are  part of the dynamics of hydrographic basins. Due to El Niño from March 1972 to Feb 1973, the provinces of Guayas, Esmeraldas, and Los Ríos, and in August 1982 to November 1983 in the provinces of Manabí, Guayas, El Oro, and Los Ríos, were severely impacted by the phenomenon, which represented 15% of the national coastal territory. The El Niño phenomenon from October 1997 to June 1998, severely impacted the provinces of Guayas, Manabí, Esmeraldas, El Oro, Los Ríos, Chimborazo, Azuay, and Cañar, which affected 10% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) .  Floods are being registered not only in the coastal area but in the Andean ridge.

Insect Infestation


Aedes aegypti reported in five locations in 4 provinces of Ecuador: Esmeraldas, Guayas, El Oro and Galapagos (Santa Cruz and San Cristobal).

“Grylloidea” crickets were seen in 2020 in Guayas in noticeable volumes. Crickets proliferate due to weather conditions, in this case, the rains in the coastal area of ​​Ecuador. It is considered  a winter pest and do not bite or transmit viruses or diseases with the sole exception that the food is contaminated by the excrement and fragments of this animal.



The most vulnerable areas are the provinces of Morona Santiago, Loja, Napo, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, and Orellana El Oro. A lot of main roads that join these provinces are affected by mudslides.

Volcanic Eruptions


Ecuador has 11 active volcanos, meaning volcanic activity is a regular feature of disaster management. The country is located along the Pacific Rim's ‘Ring of Fire’.

The Tungurahua volcano, near the Ambato and Baños cities, has been active since 1999. In 22 April 2011, volcanic activity resurfaced with a series of large explosions and ash emissions towards the western part of the volcano. Volcanic activity at Tungurahua has diminished since the end of May, but Ecuadorian authorities continue to restrict access to the volcano and a yellow alert for the immediate surrounding areas of the volcano is still in place.

The Reventador Volcano, in Napo Province in the Amazon region, has shown increased activity and an increase in the size of the dome and temperature. The National Agency for Risk Control has suspended all other mountaineering activities in the immediate surroundings in El Chaco region.

Sangay (also known as Macas, Sanagay, or Sangai) is an active stratovolcano in central Ecuador. It is the most active volcano in Ecuador, despite erupting only three times in recorded history, because the eruption that started in 1934 is still ongoing. It exhibits mostly strombolian activity. Geologically, Sangay marks the southern boundary of the Northern Volcanic Zone, and its position straddling two major pieces of crust accounts for its high level of activity. Sangay's approximately 500,000-year-old history is one of instability; two previous versions of the mountain were destroyed in massive flank collapses, evidence of which still litters its surroundings today.

Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located in the Latacunga canton of Cotopaxi Province, about 50 km (31 mi) south of Quito, and 33 km (21 mi) northeast of the city of Latacunga. It is the second highest summit in Ecuador, reaching a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft). It is one of the world's highest volcanoes. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by lahars (mudflows) around the volcano. The last eruption lasted from August 2015 to January 2016. With 87 known eruptions, Cotopaxi is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. In 2015, two large phreatic (steam) eruptions in the morning of the 14 August marked a new phase of volcanic activity. The volcano remains in a very abnormal situation. In August, 2,100 earthquakes were recorded and emission rates of sulfur dioxide reach approximately 20,000 tonnes per day. It is estimated that 300,000 people are at risk from the volcano in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Napo, and Pichincha. 

High Waves / Surges


Tsunamis occur rarely in Ecuador. Only 4 tsunamis have occurred since 1906 and a total of 4 people have died as a result. Following the magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan on 11 March 2011, a tsunami alert was activated in Ecuador. High tides and slight damage in the Galápagos Islands and in some coastal villages were reported. 



Between 2012 and 2017 Ecuador lost 57,000 hectares to wildfires. In the last two years, statistics indicate that 38.26% of forest fires occur in State Natural Heritage Areas and 33.10% in forests and protected vegetation. 

High Winds



Other Comments

Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife


International Conflict


Internally Displaced Persons


Refugees Present

Socio-political issues in Venezuela have caused migration into Ecuador.

As of September 2019, approximately 4.3 million people left Venezuela. 80 percent emigrated to Latin America and the main recipient countries have been Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. At the beginning of the Venezuelan exodus, Ecuador was characterized for being a country of transit to Peru or other countries of the southern cone such as Chile and Argentina. However, between 2015 and September 2019, almost 400,000 Venezuelans decided to settle in the country. Due to the health emergency, which included an economic and social crisis in the country, Ecuador stopped becoming a reliable refuge for Venezuelans. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, between 5,000 and 8,000 people enter Ecuador every day, of which approximately 30% remain in Ecuador, largely near the northern and southern borders of the country.

According to the records of the Ministry of Government, the entry of Venezuelans has been reduced abruptly in 2020. In 2018, when the peak income of migrants of this nationality was reached, up to 79,636 Venezuelans arrived in Ecuador each month. In 2020, on the other hand, this figure has dropped to 1,706/month. As a percentage, comparing 2019 and 2020, the income of Venezuelans was reduced by 95.98%. The refugee presence has generated a humanitarian crisis.

Landmines / UXO Present


Other Comments

The migration of Venezuelan refugees requires considerable attention. IOM has published the results of the 10th Flow Monitoring Survey on the Venezuelan population in Ecuador carried out in February and March 2021. .Among the important data in this report, it stands out that 57 percent of those surveyed entered through an official control point; while 43 percent claimed to have done it by unofficial steps and 1 percent preferred not to answer the question. Of the people surveyed, 96 percent state that their migration route ends in Ecuador; while 2 percent will continue their route to Peru, 1 percent to Chile, 1 percent to other countries and less than 1 percent will return to Venezuela. Regarding immigration status, 81 percent of those surveyed declared having irregular immigration status. 9 percent declared that they had a regular immigration status. In addition, 62 percent stated that they required information on procedures to regularize their immigration status. Among the difficulties of the trip, 40% of people declared having experienced some type of difficulty, among which are: lack of economic resources (65%), insecurity or theft (39%), lack of food and water (15% ), lack of place to sleep (15%). Among the main data on access to health services, 96 percent confirmed not having any type of health insurance. 51 percent go to public health centers; followed by pharmacies (15%), do not seek assistance (15%) and go to private centers (2%).Regarding situations of vulnerability, 55 percent affirmed having suffered some type of discrimination, mainly because of their nationality; while 15 percent of the surveyed population declared having been the victim of some type of violence. Assistance needs were identified in all cities, which are mainly focused on income and employment generation (54%), document assistance (37%), legal assistance (33%), food (30%),  rental assistance (28%), medical assistance (18%), education and training (11%).


For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters Country Profile:

Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities

Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Primary Road Transport

The seasonal changes occur in two periods:

  • Rainy season from December to June
  • Dry season from June to December.

In the rainy season, landslides and obstructions affect both primary and secondary roads. Road clearing often takes considerable time. Landslides causing road obstructions result in shortages of zonal products in local markets, and in turn, can cause increased food prices. While seasons may vary consistently in Ecuador rainy periods generate problems of landslides, floods and closures, also due to poor infrastructure condition.

Secondary Road Transport

The seasonal changes occur in two periods:

  • Rainy season from December to June
  • Dry season from June to December.

Same as the primary road but the effects to secondary roads is higher.

Rail Transport

The seasonal changes occur in two periods:

  • Rainy season from December to June
  • Dry season from June to December.

The biggest challenge present in Ecuador is the amount of rain in certain seasons of the year, so retaining walls are essential to control that said rains do not cause landslides or landslides on railroad tracks. With 4 regions: coast, highlands, east and insular, these regions are separated by mountains, which hinders road communication between these regions, it also has a large number of rivers, streams, so proper maintenance, prevention and quick debris removal reaction  is essential of the railway in these sections

Air Transport

The seasonal changes occur in two periods:

  • Rainy season from December to June
  • Dry season from June to December.

Airport operations can be affected by ashes from volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Due to climatic variation in the country, the probability of changes in the weather is high, wind direction, speed, visibility, weather events such as fog, brume, thunderstorms, heavy rain, temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Flooded runways, bad drainage networks, and fog obstruct the visibility of the limited signage.

 In such circumstances, infrequently used airports and military airports will be used for national or international air operations. 

Waterway Transport

The seasonal changes occur in two periods: • Rainy from December to June known as

"Winter" or rainy season • "Summer" or dry season, with less rainfall that extends from June to December

The lowering of the water level affects transportation in the main waterways. During the dry period: sedimentation, sharp rocks, and low riverbed affect the service. High rainfall generated riverbed uncontrolled, which does not allow proper navigation.

Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details


From October to April

MThe biggest problem is the effect of rainy season on the roads that provide access to warehouses. Additionally, some roofs of government warehouses are negatively affected by rains. The government has warehouses in some strategic places, from which humanitarian relief items can be distributed to support local emergencies.





Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response


Based on the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution, the Government of Ecuador assumed the leadership role in preparedness and response actions during emergencies, reorganizing what until that time was known as Civil Defense, and creating a new organization: The Secretariat of Risk Management (SGR). In a joint effort with provincial governments, the SGR became the organization responsible for developing a National Decentralized System for Risk Management (SNDGR), supporting people and communities that are negatively affected by natural and/or man-made disasters. The SGR is responsible for the establishment of policies and directives to ensure a coordinated Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) system by promoting the development and enhancement of capacities directed to: 1) identify, prevent, and mitigate risks; 2) respond and assist during emergency situations; 3) apply recovery and reconstruction actions after the occurrence of a disaster.

Risk management is part of the overall security of the country and is the direct responsibility of each entity of the public and private sectors within their geographical scope; risk management will operate continuously as a normal part of planning and management. Risks will be managed under the principle of subsidiary decentralization, which will involve direct responsibility of the institutions within their geographical scope. When an entity’s capabilities for risk management are insufficient, other territories with greater financial and technical capacity can provide the necessary support, without being relieved of their own responsibilities. The general objective, by mandate of the Constitution, is to minimize vulnerability. 

The SNDGR is made up of the governing entity; the risk management units of all public and private entities at local, regional, and national levels; scientific entities that study threats and vulnerabilities; and coordination mechanisms, among others. All state ministries and UN agencies present in Ecuador are part of the SNDGR.

The Manual of Emergency Operations Committees (COE) states that the Armed Forces are part of the Operative Group responsible for logistics support (in addition to managing external security).

For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List.

Humanitarian Community

Ecuador has had a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) since 2014, the leader of which is the Resident Coordinator. The HCT is attended by UN agencies, national and international humanitarian organizations, and donors. The HCT supported Ecuador in the April 16 earthquake, including in the activation and organization of emergency clusters. The Logistics Cluster was active during the emergency until 30 May. 

The Ecuadorian Red Cross is present across the country. A lot of NGOs are present on the local level and are working with communities directly on preparedness, development, and protection.

Ecuador – Lead Ministries and Supporting UN Agencies


Lead Ministry

Lead UN Agency

Agriculture & Food Security

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock


Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion

Risk Management Secretary

Health, Nutrition

Ministry of Public Health



Ministry of Education


Water & Sanitation

Ministry of Public Health

Water National Secretary


Transport, Logistics & Communication

Ministry of Defence


Women & Child Protection

Ministry of Justice


Emergency Shelter & Protection 

Ministry of Public Works & Housing


Coordination & Assessments

Risk Management Secretary


For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link:  4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List.

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