Ecuador is a patchwork of ethnic identities, a complex legacy of its indigenous and colonial past.

Long the heartland of a series of native Andean civilisations, it was taken over by the Peru-centred Inca Empire in the 15th century, and then Spanish conquerors a century later.

It won independence from Spain in the early 19th century.

Traditionally a farming country, Ecuador’s economy was transformed after the 1960s by the growth of industry and the discovery of oil.

There was rapid growth and progress in health, education and housing.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Ecuador in 1996. We returned in 2016 to help in the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes.

MSF’s work in Ecuador: 2016

Two earthquakes hit Ecuador in 2016, on 16 April and 18 May, killing an estimated 671 people and injuring another 17,638.

Over 33,360 people had to move into shelters after their homes were damaged or destroyed.


After the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck, four of our teams already working in South America travelled to Ecuador and spent a month working in Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces, two of the worst-affected areas, which were later declared disaster zones.

After an initial assessment, the teams focused their efforts on providing mental health support and distributing relief items.

They conducted psychosocial activities with 3,675 people and distributed 180 hygiene kits, around 200 cooking kits, more than 60 shelter kits comprising mattresses, blankets and plastic sheeting, and 10 water tanks, each with a capacity of 5,000 litres.

Our teams also provided primary healthcare, carrying out a total of 120 consultations.

In Jama, located on the coast of Manabí province, our team distributed shelter, cooking and hygiene kits to 500 families.

In total, more than 2,000 people in Jama benefited from our support. Our operations in Ecuador finished at the end of May 2016.

Find out more in our International Activity Report

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