Since 2020, with funding from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), AVSI in Ecuador has been implementing the Integrados Project, which seeks the cultural, social, and economic inclusion of the Venezuelan migrant community in their host communities by strengthening community networks that connect the migrant and host community in enriching and vibrant environments. The project has three main components: Protection, Shelter, and Livelihoods, which, anchored to the Adaptive Community Protection approach, form bonds of solidarity and more robust, more united communities. Integrados is implemented in conjunction with sub-grantee Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI).
R4V’s Response Plan 2023 predicts that over 800,000 Venezuelans will migrate to Ecuador in 2023, with over 500,000 remaining long-term; 73% will be undocumented. Their status affects their access to services and the formal labor market, exposing them to protection risks and limiting their socio-economic integration prospects. Besides the legal challenges, Venezuelans’ socio-economic integration is now more problematic due to the country’s recent financial downturn, with budget cuts to public expenses, such as education and health. Continued socio-economic instability and rising levels of violence have increased irregular migration of local and migrant populations. According to Reliefweb 2022, GTRM Ecuador, in October 2022, north-south flows increased, with a rise in inflows from Colombia to Ecuador and outflows from Ecuador to Peru. As a result, Ecuador remains a destination and transit country for the Venezuelan population. According to Reliefweb 2022, GTRM Ecuador, approximately 37% of Venezuelans in Ecuador live in poverty, while 28% live in extreme poverty, with a monthly per capita family income of less than USD 84.71. AVSI’s evaluation of Integrados confirms that the Venezuelan population in Ecuador lives under the poverty threshold (2022) and resides in substandard housing. As a result, these challenges are urgent and require immediate assistance.
The protection component includes measures to enable affected migrant families to meet basic needs, access temporary housing services, and support their transition to safe housing. It also seeks to develop the capacities of local agents to promote co-responsibility and greater efficiency in the socio-economic integration processes of the migrant community in their host communities.
The shelter component seeks to provide access to safe housing and improved housing services to families affected by the migration crisis. This component has two levels: guaranteeing safe temporary housing services in temporary shelters and improving access to permanent housing. Community centers are adapted to serve as safe spaces for accessing protection services and to prioritize community social cohesion (using the humanitarian standards in the Sphere Handbook).
The livelihood component seeks to increase the socio-economic inclusion of migrant, refugee, and host populations through relevant training, support for self-employment, and entrepreneurship. COOPI ensures socio-economic inclusion by strengthening marketing channels for the goods and services of potential entrepreneurs.
In these three years, Integrados has directly benefited 2,250 families (about 9,000 people). Over 70% of the beneficiaries of the livelihood component are women. There are about 30,000 indirect beneficiaries, including future residents of temporary shelters and multifamily units, prospective community members benefitting from improvements to community centers, and neighbors benefiting from the services provided through the small businesses started through the project.
In the 3rd year, Integrados expanded to two provinces in Ecuador: Guayas and Santo Domingo.