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Factbook

Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation

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Waste Management Conflict, Ecuador

Type of conflict main
Intensity 1
Region
South America
Time 2012 ‐ ongoing
Countries Ecuador
Resources Air (Pollution), Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary Ecuador’s 2013-2017 Program of Government lists integrated solid waste management (ISWM) as a current topic on Ecuador’s national agenda. The program calls...
Waste Management Conflict, Ecuador
Ecuador’s 2013-2017 Program of Government lists integrated solid waste management (ISWM) as a current topic on Ecuador’s national agenda. The program calls for the elimination of garbage dumps and the creation of technically managed sanitary landfills; however, establishing sanitary landfills has generated opposition from communities worried about the environmental impacts of these landfills on air, water, and soil resources. This conflict summary focuses on a still unresolved conflict concerning a landfill in the province of Cañar, Ecuador.
Conceptual Model

Intermediary Mechanisms

The community of Curiurcu perceived the creation of a landfill as a health and environmental threat through the possible pollution of their natural environment.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Opposing the plan to build a landfill on their ground, the community of Curiurcu denied the planners access to the area. As the communities affected had not been included in the planning process, community leaders attempted to halt the establishment of the landfill and to renegotiate the project.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversInfrastructure development leads to environmental degradation.Pollution creates public health risks.Public health risks cause growing discontent with the state.Construction of major infrastructure, such as dams, canals or roads.Infrastructure DevelopmentPollution and degradation of ecosystems, such as coral reefs.Pollution / Environmental DegradationRisks to the health of the population.Public Health RisksChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
Conflict History

Since 2010, the canton of Cañar has experienced serious problems with waste management. In March of 2010, public perception of garbage dumps as threats to people and the environment prompted communities to demand their closure.  Because of what happened, the four municipalities of Cañar, Suscal, El Tambo and Biblián formed the Municipal Association Integrated Sanitation Company for the Cañari People (EMMAIPC-EP).

The Curiurcu alternative
In 2012, the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador (MAE), with the help of a consultant, determined that the best site for the proposed landfill was located in the community of Curiurcu. The Curiurcu alternative was optimal because it was located on municipal land. Municipalities acquired 57 hectares in 2010, and installations are planned for 6.5 hectares. A report by the consultant estimated that the construction of the landfill at this site would cost approximately US$2,600,000.

Curiurcu community opposition
Plans to build the Landfill in Curiurcu were met with community opposition.  In June 2012, the consultant informed the MAE that it would be impossible to make the final designs because the community would not let them in to finish their field work. This information was verified by the Ministry in August, witnessing the community of Curiurcu’s opposition to the project. Subsequently, building the Cañari People Association Solid Waste Treatment Center was opposed by political and community sectors such as the Committee to Defend Mother Earth (Pachamama) and Good Living, comprised by representatives of Curiurcu and the surrounding communities of Zhuya, Malal, Gaza, and Puruvín.

Waste management issue
Serious socio-environmental conflicts surround mismanagement of solid waste, especially when that waste, neglected by local governments, causes environmental pollution or negatively affects people, particularly those living near disposal sites. Although pollution from waste mismanagement has not yet been a detriment to local natural resources, simply the perception of this as a possibility is catalyst for conflict in these local communities. To add to the situation, the history of inadequate handling of related issues in this region has generated profound concerns regarding this issue.

Resolution Efforts

Since 2012, there have been a series of meetings to discuss this issue.

National Secretariat of Political Governance assembly
In November 2013, the National Secretariat of Political Governance called an assembly in the affected communities to discuss this issue, yet none of the authorities who favour the implementation of the landfill attended.  At the assembly, the affected communities expressed their demands: to clarify details of the land purchase executed in 2010 by the municipalities, including the boundaries and the actual dimensions (the boundaries and the actual dimensions with deeds and with the owners from the community); to prevent the conclusion of the final designs that were not coordinated with the community; and to hold a meeting so that the authorities can hear the arguments of technicians and community members regarding their refusal of the proposal.

Series of discussion supported by the Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano
In 2014, new mayors were elected and, with support from the Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, a series of discussions were held with the communities, meetings were conducted among different levels of government and dialogues occurred between communities and authorities. In November of 2014, an assembly was attended by communities and the mayors they elected to agree on the steps necessary to reach an agreement. Currently, the  conflict is improving, and although factors such as public statements and confrontations or the detention of community groups of technicians have rekindled conflict, it has never resulted in violence. . The stakeholders, a majority of which are technicians and politicians, have strived for collaboration when dealing with the conflict- In particular, the President of the Municipal Association has remained open to dialogue and to resolution by alternative means. However, community leaders have consistently maintained their refusal of the landfill and have gradually closed off  any possibilities of dialogue.

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
Intensities
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Fatalities
0
Violent Conflict No
Salience within nation Regional
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Air (Pollution), Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been partially addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Conflict resolution strategies have been clearly responsible for the decrease in conflict intensity.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Community of Curiurco
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
EMMAIPC-EP
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Committee to Defend Mother Earth
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Good Living
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Community of Zhuya
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Community of Malal
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Community of Gaza
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Community of Puruvín
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Ministry of the Environment (Ecuador)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
National Secretariat of Political Governance
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Dialogue Various meetings between the community of Curiurcu and authorities were held to discuss the issue and allow community leaders to express their concerns over the implementation of the landfill. Technicians and politicians have maintained a collaborative attitude in dealing with the conflict. Nonetheless, no resolution has been reached as community leaders have firmly maintained their position of refusing the landfill project.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Public good: No one can be excluded from use and the good is not depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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