Project Factsheet
Tools for » Development and Cultural Diversity to reduce Poverty and promote Social Inclusion
Project ID:00067176Description:MDGF-1781-G-ECU Cultural
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 5 Nov 2007
MDGF Culture & Development
End Date*: 24 Apr 2012
Country: Ecuador Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The National Development Plan 2007-2009 states that "inequality and exclusion of indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians disrespect of their collective rights, and liberal treatment of the diversity has profound economic and social impacts. In this context, the Joint Programme (JP) has implemented key actions that have contributed to improving the conditions of the indigenous and Afro descendants’ populations that are also the most vulnerable and economically fragile target groups.

The JP was implemented through the leadership of the Heritage Ministry Coordinator with the support of six UN agencies who brought their technical and thematic expertise:  UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, FAO, WTO and UNDP.

The Program created training and capacity building strategies for civil servants, as well as civil society, through such powerful tools as the “National Plan against Racism and Discrimination” and the national contest “Nelson Estupiñán Bass” that rewards initiatives against discrimination and racism. The United Nations agencies that supported the productive community enterprises had a unique training strategy, which allowed the development processes with a single methodology and a validated intervention in the territories. The stakeholders involved in the implementation of culturally productive undertakings were a total of 30,505 citizens of Ecuador (14,439 directly and 16,066 indirectly).

The Programme has increased intercultural processes based on equality and equity through: the implementation of the Public Policy for Gender and Intercultural; The JP has contributed to improved health services by making them culturally adequate in order to encourage the access of indigenous and Afro descendant women; facilitating the construction of participatory proposed new laws and institutions for groups and nationalities; strategies have been elaborated to include indigenous children in the international bilingual school system and for supporting basic education in the native language (with didactic materials produced by the JP such as dictionaries); technical and financial assistance to 28 culturally productive undertakings for indigenous cultural descent; New statistical collection methods were introduced that allowed to obtain differentiated data reflecting the ethnic and intercultural dimensions.

One of the strengths of the programme was that the beneficiary population was in charge of identifying the typology of courses and services that were offered to them. As such, the JP proved entirely responsive to the local needs and incorporated them into the activities design. Specific activities were also undertaken to include excluded population of ethnic background into productive and income generating schemes, such as gastronomy, music, dancing, etc.

The Heritage Ministry Coordinator have implemented a second phase of the Programme on the basis of the evaluation and of the good results obtained, on the government’s own funding.


Outcome 1:

Public Policy.  Practice of cultural rights strengthened, political participation increased, discrimination decreased and equal opportunities for ethnically excluded groups are promoted through design, implementation and evaluation of intercultural public policies.

Outcome achievements:

  • Together with the Ministry of Justice the JP supported a new proposal for a law that articulates indigenous and ordinary justice. One important outcome was the systematization of 3 practices of indigenous justice that was used to develop the law that is to be presented by the Ministry to the National Assembly. Four training modules were developed for the Ombudsman, the National Police, the Judicial School and the Armed Forces for an inclusion of the modules in their curriculum. In the area of intercultural bilingual education, public measures were taken to reincorporate indigenous children into the educational system. Intercultural health through a change process within the Heritage Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health was undertaken, in order to change the service delivery and make it culturally relevant. Some fifteen workshops with health staff were conducted based on various training guides such as; a culturally appropriate methodological guide to maternal health and that was completed by offering culturally appropriate child-birthing service in 7 health centers.
  • A Policy on Public Gender and Interculturality of Heritage started implementation in 2011 and allowed the creation of the Table of Interculturality in the Heritage Ministry.
  • With the support of the JP, a Multinational Plan was established to eliminate discrimination and racism. The Plan was declared a public policy by Decree No 60 of 28 September 2009. Consequently, sensitization workshops for government and civil society were undertaken; the observatory against racism and discrimination through a partnership with FLACSO (Latin American Social Sciences School) was established; a law proposal was drafted with the CODAE (Afroequatorian Development Council), and various studies on the socio-economic situation of the different nationalities in Ecuador were undertaken.
  • Another aspect covered by the JP was working towards repaying the historical debt towards indigenous women poets. In April 2011 the JP supported the International Colloquium of Indigenous Women Writers. Given its success a second one was organized in November 2011. In this second Colloquium 22 women from Latin America were brought in by the Heritage Ministry.


Outcome 2:

Cultural revitalization, intercultural and economic endeavors: ethnically excluded populations expand their opportunities for human development and cultural revitalization through the impetus to cultures and creative endeavors.

Outcome achievements:

  • 29 culturally productive undertakings took place targeting indigenous population in a range of cultural areas such as handicraft, gastronomy, tourism, music, etc.  Through the support from FAO and Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by UNDP, 64% of the undertakings provided income for the organizations; 7 undertakings are related to food security (32%), and one is linked to education. These undertakings have started commercialization in the municipal markets (mainly handicrafts) and some have reached regional markets.
  • Capacity development training on organizational strengthening, leadership and participation, indigenous women’s rights and project design and management was provided to 2,995 people of which 1,556 women. Workshops were tailored on a response to demand basis.


Outcome 3:

Disaggregated statistics and information systems: national and local planning system strengthened by building national and local capacity in the production, analysis, use, and dissemination of statistical information relevant to the cultural and ethnic diversity for public policy decision making.

Outcome achievements:

  • The heritage Ministry Coordinator has started publishing analytical bulletins on the status of the National Heritage in the country, based on the system built by the Programme. Work was undertaken to include appropriate questions on ethnicity in the national census 2010. With the support of the Social Development Ministry Coordinator, the national Integrated System of Social Indicators was strengthened through the development of a web portal.


Best practices:

Relevance, strategic alignment, ownership, provincial level committees, working on gender, linking culture to sustainable income sources, capacity development, and general sensitization of society (such as the Nelson Estupiñan Bass competition) were all part of the good JP practices. A systematization of the experiences and lessons learned was undertaken for each of the three intervention areas that led to the publication of a product for each intervention area and were disseminated amongst all key stakeholders. Also:

  • Efficiency: the resources were invested with strategic actions at key and multiplying activities, with established approaches, with special importance to strengthening human capabilities.
  • Alliances: the strategy of alliances between the public, NGOs and the United Nations System, demonstrates its virtues to the extent the public policy making work and the creativity and dialogue capacity generated by UN.
  • Joint work: The Programme had a joint space that was powerful for coordinating work between agencies, this space was the Interagency Intercultural Working Group, which validated the operational plans and identified the necessary synergies to address such efficient objectives.
  • Culture: in general, the inclusion of the cultural variable in the projects as well as being the hub of the program was the innovative element. The rights approach was friendly and relevant issue with building an intercultural and plurinational state, as mandated by the Constitution of Ecuador.


Lessons learned:

The highly participatory approach taken by the Programme was a result of the following:

  • Local Committees: important spaces for local implementation, where public and private actors converged, joint common interest, such as the rights of cultures and nationalities. These committees are allowed build synergies between actors, the approach of the authorities with the demands of the community, among other positive factors.
    Gender work: especially when articulated with multiculturalism, resulting in public policy Heritage Sector Council. For the construction of this policy, we assembled a table of multiculturalism, something that must be maintained in the implementation. Additionally, issues of gender and multiculturalism should be extended to other ministries, but on the basis of a previous process of sensitization and training of civil servants rights.
  • Linking culture and generation of sustainable livelihoods: this correlation was found through productive undertakings, where the key variable was cultural revitalization, and by developing this variable generation sought livelihoods, security food, environmental friendliness, before the market linkages for obtaining useful and expanded reproduction.
  • Capacity building: knowledge and exercise of the rights of cultures and nationalities by society and government officials was a marked weakness. To overcome this weakness were built in participatory training modules, which should be used more widely.
  • Sensitization to society: a powerful tool was identified as “Nelson Estupiñán Bass” Contest, which allowed access to a broad segment of the Ecuadorian population, especially children and youth, which is the space where you should promote the cultural change required construction of the new state.
  • Joint work: keep working together to achieve the objectives and results. This partnership involved a prior agreement, which determined the definition of methodologies, approaches, participatory tools, joint planning.  

The program did not start from scratch. He began his work taking into account the previous experiences of the UNDP and FAO.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Ecuador or the lead agency for the programme.

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