In Ecuador, struggling to meet basic needs after the earthquake

Families in need of food and water

By Diego Brom
Micaela, 12, at the emergency earthquake response centre in Pedernales, Ecuador.
UNICEF Ecuador/2016/Brom
03 May 2016

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador in April, 12-year-old Micaela and her family were living at the epicentre. Now they are struggling to find food and water, but Micaela still holds on to the hope of returning to school.

PEDERNALES, Ecuador, 3 May 2016 – Micaela Chila, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Pedernales, the epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on 16 April, calls on people around the world to "help us find food, especially for children."

Micaela and her family were in search of support after the quake, and recently went to the Maximino Puertas stadium in Pedernales, which is functioning as the operations centre of the emergency response. There, they received food and water from the organizations working at the site, as well as psychological assistance from professionals from the Ministry of Health.

"We're fine, but have no food and other things. We come here looking for nutrition. I hope you can help us, especially the children," she said.

A temporary home

Micaela tells us that the earthquake was "terrible. I was very scared." She and her brothers hid under a table and thankfully did not suffer any injuries.

After the quake, her sister noticed that the tide was low. Fearing a tsunami, her family decided to leave their home. They are currently staying with another family, who lent them a cabin as shelter for the time being.

"These tremors are terrible. Yesterday's aftershock was really bad,” she said. “Where we were, it seemed like everything was going to fall."

A family in Ecuador stands outside an emergency response centre after an earthquake struck the country.
UNICEF Ecuador/2016/Brom
Micaela stands with her family outside the emergency response centre. When the earthquake struck, they were living at the epicentre and huddled under a table for protection. Now they are temporarily staying in a cabin that was lent to them by another family.

Despite the lingering effects of the earthquake, Micaela hopes for "calm and tranquility now for everyone."

She also hopes to return to school soon, because she does not want to miss the schoolyear.

Bringing back education

More than 280 schools have been damaged by the earthquake, leaving up to 120,000 children temporarily without education.

UNICEF is helping the Government get children back to their regular school routines by installing 50 temporary learning spaces for 20,000 children, and distributing basic school supplies to 60,000 children and adolescents in 700 schools.

“Education is a lifeline for children going through the trauma of chaos and destruction,” said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador. “It helps give them a daily routine and a sense of purpose and puts them on track for psychological recovery.”


As part of a UN appeal for $72 million, UNICEF and its humanitarian partners will need $23 million to provide for the needs of 250,000 children over the next three months.

The first airlift of UNICEF relief items landed in Quito on 22 April, and included 10,000 fleece blankets, 300 plastic tarps, over 100 large tents, 4,000 insecticide treated bednets, 250,000 Vitamin A capsules and kits for the treatment of diarrhoea. UNICEF has also deployed five emergency teams to Pedernales, Muisne, Jama, Portoviejo and Manta, for both rapid needs assessments and support to immediate response in WASH, health and nutrition, education and child protection sectors.

>>  Learn more about UNICEF’s response in Ecuador