Get To Know Anconcito Part 1 : Meet the Community

In the first part of our Ecuador photo series, we explore the coastal community of Anconcito, which is home to FIMRC's newest project site. To learn more about Anconcito, its residents, and FIMRC's early efforts to improve the health of this community, hover over the images below.

Anconcito is a small fishing town of about 14,000 people, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean on Ecuador’s west coast. There has recently been an influx of fishermen and their families from other coastal towns in search of more lucrative opportunities, which has put a strain on the fishing industry and on the town’s already limited infrastructure. Small neighborhoods like the one pictured here, named “Manabí” after the northern coastal province that many of its new inhabitants are from, have popped up in recent years. The homes are made of caña (cane) walls, dirt floors, and tin roofs, and can be quickly constructed.

Anconcito is a small fishing town of about 14,000 people, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean on Ecuador’s west coast. There has recently been an influx of fishermen and their families from other coastal towns in search of more lucrative opportunities, which has put a strain on the fishing industry and on the town’s already limited infrastructure. Small neighborhoods like the one pictured here, named “Manabí” after the northern coastal province that many of its new inhabitants are from, have popped up in recent years. The homes are made of caña (cane) walls, dirt floors, and tin roofs, and can be quickly constructed.

Anconcito is almost completely dependent on the fishing industry. The minority of men who are not fisherman support the industry in different ways, buying and selling fish to larger companies, driving the trucks that transport the fish to the markets nearby, or building and repairing boats. Recent changes in weather conditions and currents, overfishing, and the rise of pirating at sea has negatively affected the industry, and many families are suffering economically.

Anconcito is almost completely dependent on the fishing industry. The minority of men who are not fisherman support the industry in different ways, buying and selling fish to larger companies, driving the trucks that transport the fish to the markets nearby, or building and repairing boats. Recent changes in weather conditions and currents, overfishing, and the rise of pirating at sea has negatively affected the industry, and many families are suffering economically.

Town spaces such as parks, soccer fields, empty lots, and even streets are often used by fishermen to put together their nets for fishing. Each net is stitched by hand, and the size of the holes and styles of the stitches depend on the type of fish or crustacean they hope to catch. 

Town spaces such as parks, soccer fields, empty lots, and even streets are often used by fishermen to put together their nets for fishing. Each net is stitched by hand, and the size of the holes and styles of the stitches depend on the type of fish or crustacean they hope to catch. 

The fishermen go to sea and come back according to very specific schedules, also depending on the type of fish they are hunting. These men, repairing their nets in the park of the Paraíso (Paradise) neighborhood of Anconcito, planned to leave at midnight that night and return at 6am the next morning.

The fishermen go to sea and come back according to very specific schedules, also depending on the type of fish they are hunting. These men, repairing their nets in the park of the Paraíso (Paradise) neighborhood of Anconcito, planned to leave at midnight that night and return at 6am the next morning.

While men are typically the ones who fish, the entire family is involved in the process. In this photo, a woman takes a break from cleaning fish to answer questions for FIMRC’s door-to-door community diagnostic. Throughout the course of the community diagnostic in which FIMRC volunteers interviewed more than 1,500 families, we discovered that the vast majority of men are involved in the fishing industry, while most women describe themselves as “ama de casa” which can be translated as housewife or homemaker. While they don’t earn an income for their work, the women work tirelessly taking care of the children, cooking meals, cleaning the house, and doing other tasks to keep their families safe, happy, and healthy.

While men are typically the ones who fish, the entire family is involved in the process. In this photo, a woman takes a break from cleaning fish to answer questions for FIMRC’s door-to-door community diagnostic. Throughout the course of the community diagnostic in which FIMRC volunteers interviewed more than 1,500 families, we discovered that the vast majority of men are involved in the fishing industry, while most women describe themselves as “ama de casa” which can be translated as housewife or homemaker. While they don’t earn an income for their work, the women work tirelessly taking care of the children, cooking meals, cleaning the house, and doing other tasks to keep their families safe, happy, and healthy.

Throughout the course of the community diagnostic, we found that the hardest question for families to answer was about their monthly income. Because the fishing industry is so dependent on weather, seasons, luck, and other outside factors, monthly incomes vary dramatically. The minimum wage in Ecuador is $366/month, but very few fishing families make this amount. It was very difficult for people to estimate their monthly income because it’s so varied. Families take home anywhere from $50 to $400 monthly depending on the fishing at the time, and sometimes they go months without earning anything. 

Throughout the course of the community diagnostic, we found that the hardest question for families to answer was about their monthly income. Because the fishing industry is so dependent on weather, seasons, luck, and other outside factors, monthly incomes vary dramatically. The minimum wage in Ecuador is $366/month, but very few fishing families make this amount. It was very difficult for people to estimate their monthly income because it’s so varied. Families take home anywhere from $50 to $400 monthly depending on the fishing at the time, and sometimes they go months without earning anything. 

The varied monthly incomes make it very difficult for families to save money. Unexpected problems or illnesses can be disastrous for families, as they use the little savings they have to buy food and other necessities during the months the fishing is bad. Because of this, very few people have health insurance and they must rely solely on the public healthcare system. While public healthcare is free for all citizens and legal residents in Ecuador, the system is overburdened because so many rely on it. Appointments must be made ahead of time by phone, and general consults often take 2-3 months to be scheduled. To see a specialist, most must wait for up to 6 months. This means that very few people schedule regular visits to see a healthcare provider, and simple problems often become more serious after a prolonged time without seeing a doctor. 

The varied monthly incomes make it very difficult for families to save money. Unexpected problems or illnesses can be disastrous for families, as they use the little savings they have to buy food and other necessities during the months the fishing is bad. Because of this, very few people have health insurance and they must rely solely on the public healthcare system. While public healthcare is free for all citizens and legal residents in Ecuador, the system is overburdened because so many rely on it. Appointments must be made ahead of time by phone, and general consults often take 2-3 months to be scheduled. To see a specialist, most must wait for up to 6 months. This means that very few people schedule regular visits to see a healthcare provider, and simple problems often become more serious after a prolonged time without seeing a doctor. 

Despite these issues, the people of Anconcito are warm, friendly, and open. They welcome the chance to interact with FIMRC volunteers and staff, and are heavily involved in planning projects, activities, and events alongside FIMRC. The people of Anconcito are true stakeholders in Project Anconcito, and have continually and tirelessly demonstrated their enthusiasm towards working to improve their community. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Project Anconcito! 

Despite these issues, the people of Anconcito are warm, friendly, and open. They welcome the chance to interact with FIMRC volunteers and staff, and are heavily involved in planning projects, activities, and events alongside FIMRC. The people of Anconcito are true stakeholders in Project Anconcito, and have continually and tirelessly demonstrated their enthusiasm towards working to improve their community. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Project Anconcito! 

For more information about our site in Ecuador, click below. Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, which will explore the current health services available to residents of Anconcito and how FIMRC is working to increase access to care.

Posted on October 11, 2016 and filed under Ecuador.