Ecuador Amazonia Disaster Risk Awareness

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Ecuador Amazonia Disaster Risk Awareness

[En Español]


This project was developed at the TechCamp in Santiago, Chile on November 20. TechCamp Santagio had over 100 participants, including a few US technologists, over 20 Chilean Tech community representatives, and approxiamately 80 NGOs and civil society organization representatives from across Latin America. Small group discussions between technologists and civil society organizations were used as a means of developing valid problem definition statements.

The point of contact for this project is Elva Ulcuango - Noel Dickover ( or is a secondary contact. He is US-based and can be reached via email or cell during RHoK at seven-zero-three--two-three-one--three-nine-one-two, or via twitter at @NoelDickover, or via Skype at "NoelDickover". Noel may be available via Skype (NoelDickover) Friday evening, late Saturday evening and Sunday.

  • Elva Ulcuango - (Elva is represents these region in Ecuador speaks Spanish only)
  • fereracion de mujeres Sucumbios.
  • Noel Dickover – or, or via Skype at "NoelDickover"

The Indigenous communities in Ecuador affected by this are near or in the Amazon region. Specific areas in Ecuado include:


  • Orellana
  • Sucumbios


  • Pichincha
  • Cotopaxi
  • Loja
  • Chimborazo


  • Esemraldas
  • El Oro


Indigenous communities in Ecuador don’t have a way of sharing disaster risk information in their communities. These disasters include both oil well spills and landslides

  • Oil spills impact communities living close to them
  • Landslides impact people who built houses in danger areas.


  • Communicating the disaster to those affected or could be affected
  • Government response isn’t quick, so the communities need to respond.
  • When the government does respond, they take credit for community’s work

Technology access

  • Many villages have no access to telephone or networked computers.
  • Mostnews updates are provided either by paper or community radio from the larger towns.
  • Community radios are also updated of new things by paper. To communicate out, the villages usually find a “runner” to send the information to the closest community radio station. Information outdated by the time it gets there.
  • Community radio stations are based in heart of the regional towns. Most have computers, internet access and telephone communication.

Need Way to Share Local Knowledge

  • Each local regional area knows the local information of their group, but not their neighbors’ region. In practice, this means larger problems affecting multiple regions often go unidentified until it’s too late to address. There needs to be a way to make local knowledge be validated and shareable.


  • It’s not always clear where the danger areas for landslides in the Amazonia are for the people living there.
  • 70% People in the Amazonian area are setting up houses in landslide areas and not finding out until it’s too late.
  • The information exists, but it is not widely disseminated, potentially due to shortages in suitable housing locations (meaning government representatives would have to answer other tough questions if they solidly put landslide zones off-limits), or to inadequate information distribution mechanisms.


Description of the Need:

  • The community needs their own voice.
  • They want to show evidence of the fact that companies are putting villages in danger
  • And they need a way of updating people better.
  • Need method of validating hand-drawn maps that each community has built, building on the knowledge they already have

There is a need for Location Information to be mapped Information that needs to be mapped includes:

  • Oil Wells – locations, and how long they’ve been there
  • Villages on the map, to show distance from wells
  • Critical community infrascruture such as schools. They want to know how far the wells are from schools
  • Most importantly, the maps need to reflect the danger area around the wells.
    • The assumption is that there is a method of using international standards to define the danger area around an oil well.


Can you give a real world example of when this would be useful? e.g. in the Haiti earthquake many people were trapped in buildings but didn't have enough signal to call. (note, this isn't actually true)


Elva and Noel speaking

Noel Dickover speaks on the back-end in English. For the first part, here is a summary of what Elva Ecuando (From this area in Ecuador an who is the problem owner) says:

Elva is an indigenous representative from Ecuador, and she sees information technology as playing a useful role in helping rescue inidigenous communities. They currently have problems with the impact of the petroleum industry in their region, but lack both the resources and technical studies to address the problem. Their local communities also lack equipment and access to information technology, esp. when in an emergency. There is also a lack of knowledge of the potential of info tech at both the local and governmental level. They look forward to having stronger info tech to aid with emergencies in their indigenous areas.

Use Case/User Story/Scenario

From Elva: “Sometimes community organizations have manually drawn maps that tell details of both oil wells and landslides. We know we could have landslides in some places and record those we know about. If a well does spill, we know what river system it could go to. But that’s in paper form, but isn’t shared. Few people have access to that information, and the government doesn’t care about it because it isn’t validated. There is no mapping of the area that we know about.”

A use case would include:

  • Community of volunteers, working with local people map the areas in question, including the location of the villages, schools, oil wells and landslides
  • A layer is created that shows danger areas for oil wells
  • A separate layer is created showing danger areas for landslides.
  • These maps are made available to local community radio stations
  • An easy method of printing these maps out at the local community radio stations is devised.
  • Local elders knowledgeable about their area, as well as those with local maps are encouraged to come to the community radio stations to add their knowledge to the maps.
  • Updated maps with danger areas are printed out and hand carried to villages
  • Local leaders use the maps to negotiate with government officials on removing dangerous wells, or in making landslide risk areas off-limits for housing.
  • Local leaders ask the government to require corporations to add planned oil wells to their maps, to determine if they will provide risks to human inhabitants.

Description and Constraints

Technology access

  • Many remote villages related to this problem have no access to telephone or networked computers.
  • Most news updates are provided either by running paper around the area, or community radio from the larger towns.
  • Community radios are also updated of new things by paper. To communicate out, the villages usually find a “runner” to send the information to the closest community radio station. Information outdated by the time it gets there.
  • Community radio stations are based in heart of the regional towns. Most have computers, internet access and telephone communication.
  • The mapping solution will require that local community radio stations print out the maps and have a method of distributing them to the villages.

Similar projects and Resources

This sounds like an ideal project for OpenStreetMap, and something with layers such as the GeoCommons platform.

What next and Sustainability

Elva will work with local village leaders on the ground to help implement the follow-on actions needed to carry this through.

En Español

Daremos las definicaciones de problemas a un grupo global de progamadores voluntarios que se llaman “Random Hacks of Kindness” quien crearan soluciones a estes problemas desde el 4 hasta 5 de diciembre.

Mejor método de compartir información entre comunidades indígenas sobre desastres

Resumen del meta:

Las comunidades indígenas en Ecuador no tienen un método de compartir entre sí mismos la información sobre las riesgas de desastre. Estos desastres incluyen vertidos de petróleo y derrumbamientos de tierra.

  • Vertidos de petróleo afectan a las comunidades vecinas
  • Derrumbamientos de tierra affectan a los que tienen casas en las zonas de peligro.


  • Comunicando el desastre a los afectados o a los que podrían ser afectados
  • El gobierno no responde rápidamente, y por eso las comunidades deben responder
  • Cuando el gobierno responde, se lleva el crédito para las obras de la comunidad

Acceso de tecnología

  • Muchos pueblos no tienen acceso a teléfonos o computadoras conectadas
  • La mayoría de noticias son proveídos por el diario o radio communal de las pueblos mas grandes
  • Las radios comunales también están puestos al día por mensajes de papel. Para comunicar, los pueblecitos por lo común emplean un mensajero que lleva la información a la emisora de radio mas próxima. A llegar, la información ya está pasada la fecha.
  • Las emisoras comunales se hubican en los pueblos regionales. La mayoría tienen computadores, acceso al Internet, y comunicación telefónica.

Necesita método de compartir el conocimiento local Cada sector sabe el conocimiento local de su grupo, pero no conoce la region de sus vecinos. Prácticamente, el efecto es que los problemas mas grandes que afectan a regiones múltiples frecuentemente no son identificados hasta que esté demasiado tarde a resolver. Por eso, se necesita un medio de validar y compartir el conocimiento local.

Derrumbamientos de tierra

  • No es claro todas veces donde están las zonas de peligro en la Amazonia.
  • 70% de los habitantes de la región Amazona construyen casas en las zonas de desarrumbamientos de tierra, pero no se dan cuenta del peligro.
  • La información existe pero no es diseminado suficientemente, tal vez debido a escacez de locaciones de vivienda appropiada o debido a la falta de mecanismos adecuado de distribuir información

Información de lugar Que información estará en el mapa?

  • Pozos petroleros – las posiciones, cuanto tiempo que están en lugar
  • Pueblos, con la distancia a los pozos petroleros
  • Infraestructura crítica, por ejemplo las escuelas. Necesita saber la distancia entre las escuelas y los pozos petroleros.
  • Lo mas importante, los mapas necesitan indicar las zonas de peligro alrededor de los pozos petroleros. (Se supone que hay un medio para usar parámetros internacionales para determinar la zona de riesgo alrededor de un pozo petrolero.

Descripción de la necesidad:

  • La comunidad necesita su propia voz.
  • Las comunidades quieren demostrar que las compañías están poniendo en peligro los pueblos
  • Necesitan un mejor método de notificar a la gente
  • Necesitan método de validar los mapas hechos a mano, los cuales son hechos por cada comunidad de su conocimiento local.

Quien lo necesita?

Las comunidades indígenas en Ecuador que están cerca o adentro de la región Amazona. Las areas específicas incluyen:

Amazonia • Orellana • Sucumbios Sierra • Pichincha • Cotopaxi • Loja Chimborazo • Costa • Esmeraldas • El Oro


Elva y Noel hablando

Caso de uso

“De vez en cuando, organizaciones comunales han hechos mapas que indican detalles de ambos pozos petroleros y desarrumbamientos de tierra. Sabemos que las desarrumbamientos de tierra son posibles, y anotamos los de que sabemos. Si hay un vertido de petrolero, sabemos cual río podría ser afectada. Pero esta información es en papel y no es compartido. Poca gente tiene acceso a tal información y el gobierno la descuenta por que no ha sido validada. No sabemos de cualquier esfuerza para trazar un mapa de la zona.”

Un caso de uso incluyería:

  • Una comunidad de voluntarios, trabajando con la gente local, trazaría un mapa de las zonas, incluyendo las posiciones de los pueblos, escuelas, pozos petroleros y desarrumbamientos de tierra.
  • Se crea un estrato que indica la zona de peligro de pozos petroleros
  • Se crea un estrato distinto que indica la zona de peligro de desarrumbamientos de tierra
  • Estos mapas son hechos disponibles a las emisoras de radio comunales
  • Se hace un médio facil de publicar los mapas en las emisoras de radio comunales
  • Se invitan a los mayores de los pueblos a visitar las emisoras de radio para contribuir and mejorar los mapas y viejos con sus conocimientos.
  • Se llevan a las comunidades los mapas actualizadas con las zonas de peligro
  • Los líderes locales usan los mapas para negociar con el gobierno para eliminar los pozos peligros o prohibir vivienda en las zonas de peligro
  • Los líderes piden que el gobierno mande que las corporaciones indiquen en los mapas pozos petroleros planeados, para determinar si representan un arriesgo a los habitantes humanos.

Soluciones que ya existen o enlaces relevantes:

Elva Ulcuango – (Elva habla español solamente) Federación de Mujeres Sucumbios – Noel Dickover – o

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