Project for Early Recovery through Improved Techniques in Small Animal Production omas Fuller

Foto: UNDP

Foto: © UNDP

The country of Ecuador is highly vulnerable to various natural phenomena. In the last few years, it has experienced floods, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes that have caused disasters of varying levels of severity. As part of its comprehensive vision for risk management, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ecuador is focusing on early recovery processes that can be implemented immediately after a disaster occurs.

During and immediately following a crisis, national actors and members of the international community focus primarily on meeting the urgent basic needs of the affected population. Human lives are at risk and immediate actions are needed to minimize damage and restore order. From the very first stages of a humanitarian emergency, however, some things need to be done that go beyond basic measures to save lives. These include laying the groundwork for a sustainable recovery and a return to a longer-term development.

The focus must be on reestablishing the national capacity to have a safe environment, offer services, restore livelihoods, coordinate activities, prevent a reoccurrence of the crisis, and create the necessary conditions for future development. The goal of early recovery work is to generate sound, self-sustaining national processes that will contribute to recovering after a crisis.

One of the most basic aspects for creating the conditions necessary for long-term recovery is the reestablishment of employment sources and means of production.

During the last two years, the UNDP Risk Management Unit in Ecuador has been implementing various projects aimed at helping people recover their ability to make a living. Based on the belief that “action is the result of knowledge” and that successful experiences should be promoted and publicized, the unit has decided to publish a series of good practices used in Ecuador for helping people to begin income-producing activities after a disaster.

This first report presents the results brought about in the first phase of a project for Early Recovery through Improved Techniques in Small Animal Production, which was carried out with populations affected by the ash that fell after the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano.

Background and rationale

Tungurahua Volcano, located in the eastern inter- Andean valleys of Ecuador, has been highly active since 1999 and has erupted several times. The ash that was hurled from Tungurahua damaged agricultural production in the area and had a very negative impact on the quality of life of the population.

Because farmers lost much of their income source after the eruptions, the municipality decided to work in partnership with UNDP to seek alternatives for diversifying production. One good alternative it found was raising small animals.

The target groups for this project are two beneficiary organizations from the cantón of Cevallos. They have 19 and 22 members, respectively, and have traditionally worked in family-scale farming, fruit production, and day labor. Volcanic ash that fell on the area negatively affected their livelihoods and forced them to look for other forms of subsistence. The establishment of community micro-enterprises that create alternatives for raising and selling small animals has been important for the peasant farmer economy of the area.


Two pilot projects for raising pigs and guinea pigs have been established with the goal of turning them into training centers for the beneficiaries. The idea is that people can move towards a technical breeding system that can be duplicated or repeated in each of the existing units.

The pilot projects are designed to become supply centers for pigs and guinea pigs of high genetic quality, providing strong breeding stock to the local market in the future. At the same time, marketing processes will begin in order to sell meat and other products with added value. This will compensate for the lack of work in farming, reactivate the economy, and improve the living conditions of small producers.

Each unit has a certain minimal system in place for technical, reproductive, sanitary, nutritional, and other types of management, and this has allowed them to reach favorable rates of various kinds.


Primary goal:

  • To implement pilot projects for raising small animals in two production associations of Cantón Cevallos. The projects will help beneficiaries develop socially and economically and can be duplicated by other groups with the direct support of the municipality.

Specific goals:

  • To promote the reactivation of the producers? economy in the cantón, which has been harmed by periodic ash fall, and provide production alternatives.
  • To help each member of the organizations gain new information and develop new skills.
  • To provide direct field training for producers by holding zoo-technical practice sessions and demonstrating the techniques used.


Results are quite encouraging and positive. They have demonstrated the effectiveness of the project and have generated good practices that can be repeated in other similar places in the area.

  • The diversification of animal production and a reduction of the economic vulnerability of many people who have been exposed to the negative effects of volcanic ash fall on agriculture and livestock.
  • A total renovation of the production unit.
  • A change in people’s attitudes about the technical management of animals.
  • The replication of acquired knowledge.
  • Current management of species that is rational and sanitary.
  • Training sessions on production-related topics so that people can advance economically.
  • Visits of organization to the production center. This has helped establish differences between the systems implemented.

Future prospects

  • The sustainability of the projects is guaranteed, on the one hand, by the demonstrated production and reproduction levels. But it is also assured because there is vast market potential in the area for this kind of production. Supply is low and must be increased in the future to meet current needs.
  • The two units are on their way to becoming comprehensive training centers for producers in the near future. The management quality and measurable results obtained by the beneficiaries in charge of the project show that the units are also ready to become centers for meeting local demand by supplying highquality breeding stock.
  • These units have become models that other producers can learn from when they have the opportunity to visit us.
  • The municipality is designing a project to establish a meat-processing plant that will give added value to the production centers and facilitate a marketing mechanism in the area.
  • The first stage of the project was supervised on an ongoing basis by the UNDP. In the second phase, the municipality (which now has new capacities) will be in charge of managing and supervising the process to provide other interested associations with the same kind of support that was given during the first phase.

The photograph below shows the changes made in the beneficiary communities and in their methods of production.

Contact details:
Project information: Bayardo Constante,
Mayor, Cantón Cevallos

UNDP: Jeannete Fernández,
National Risk Management Advisor

This project, the first phase of which has now been finalized, was derived from the effects of ash fall of the Tungurahua Volcano. New submittals demonstrate other good practices of recovering livelihoods, derived from the negative effects of annual flooding along the Ecuatorian coastline.

Borja Santos Porras, Risk Management Unit,
UNDP - Ecuador