Economic Development

Leadership Mentoring in Ecuador: Creating Systemic Change

CHOICE Humanitarian, along with local leadership, identified issues and worked together to change the region’s organizational capacity.

Identifying Opportunities for Change   

In Ecuador, small territorial political units are organized into GADs (Gobiernos Autónomos Descentralizados), which are decentralized autonomous government units. A GAD manages its own resources and land use. When reviewing conditions in how these GADs function, CHOICE Humanitarian found inefficiencies that could be improved.   

There had typically been minimal inter-institutional cooperation, which resulted in suboptimal management and resource planning. CHOICE also discovered that local leaders needed more technical capacity and more citizen participation. Lastly, there was minimal coordination with other levels of government. Due in part to these factors, many development projects were only able to focus on infrastructure and did not have equitable distribution. 

From this, a goal was developed to strengthen the capacities of local government leaders so that they might better execute their strategies for development and land use.    

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan  

CHOICE believes that to make change, all participants of a project must work in tandem. To help achieve this in Ecuador, CHOICE performed a diagnostic. This assessment factored in economic, health, nutrition, and agriculture information at the local level. This resulted in identifying areas of need, after which CHOICE and local leaders were able to prepare plans and projects that would solve the main problems determined by the community. 


Active participation of the population throughout the process was critical, as was strategic planning with local, international, private, and government institutions. CHOICE and community leaders provided training in several fields, including:   

  • Management approaches  
  • Social projects development  
  • Investment projects management  
  • Inter-institutional cooperation  
  • Foreign resource management  
  • And technical management of investment projects shared with other levels of government.  

Executing Strategy   

As a result of training and mentorship from CHOICE, the GADs leadership was able to improve their selection of development projects. This also increased their ability to effectively mobilize resources and multiply impact. For example, with an eye toward the future of food security, the GADs leadership helped 1,618 families plant their gardens.   

To enhance these gardens, GAD leadership brought in 3,920 medicinal plants and 3,710 fruit trees. To also increase family nutrition in the communities, farmers were trained in raising small animals. 1,520 laying hens and 400 guinea pigs were distributed to enhance protein production and consumption. In total, the GADs leadership was able to mobilize $136,910 worth of supplies, and these endeavors improved the food security of the local region. The GADs continue to work together with the communities and CHOICE on driving impact.  

Growth for Community Members   

In the Natabuela Parish that CHOICE serves, leaders were able to distribute fruit trees, vegetables, and medicinal plants to 100 families in this area. The project helped them improve nutrition for their families and created extra produce for them to sell in the market.  

Dioselina Churuchumbi, a mother of two children and newly appointed president of the Chilco community in Natabuela Parish, had the challenge of helping her community get through the pandemic. After visiting the families in her area, Dioselina stated that the families that were participating in the food security project were “all happy with this project."  


In the nearby Angochagua Parish, the local leaders provided land for individuals and families to plant alfalfa seeds. Fausto Farinango, a youth agricultural promoter, was assigned to oversee the work. Once the plants were grown, they were given to families to expand their crops at home.  

All of these amazing outcomes were possible thanks to the CHOICE approach. By ensuring that every aspect of a project, from the leadership to beneficiaries, is well-organized, CHOICE Humanitarian can continue to service rural areas that are living in devastating poverty. 

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