Yunguilla, a sustainable community model
We traveled to Yunguilla with the members of the Mashpi community to learn about their sustainable way of life and the lessons learned along the journey of this national and international award-winning community.
Yunguilla, located in a valley on the outskirts of Quito on the way to Nanegalito, bordered by the Pululahua Reserve to the east and the Maquipucuna and Pahuma Reserves to the west, is an exemplary sustainable community both in the economic sense as in the ecological one. Fundación Futuro took the members of the Mashpi community to visit this neighboring community, which is also part of the Andean Chocó, to learn about its transformation and way of life.
Photograph: View of the Yunguilla valley
Upon our arrival, the members of Yunguilla served us lunch in what is their most recent project: the new community restaurant, where the different local farms supply most of the organic ingredients and the staff is comprised of members of the community. From there, we could admire the valley covered in vegetation and in the distance, the houses of the community where community-based tourism takes place. Afterwards, we went to the Tahuallullo community estate where Germán, our guide and the general coordinator of the Yunguilla Corporation, told us about the history of the community in an afternoon full of teachings.
We learned that, although Yunguilla is now an exemplary community, it wasn’t always this way and changing was not an easy path. Historically, the community was engaged in woodcutting for coal production, almost deforesting the entire territory; additionally, they suffered from deficiencies in infrastructure and education. However, through the help of international NGOs, they managed to jump-start a transformation process of their economic activities and way of life, taking place over a period of 20 years. Today, they have managed to reforest everything that had once been depleted and found other sources of income, not only allowing them to overcome poverty but also to conduct a better organization of the community, consequently improving their living standards in every way. Through exchanges like this, the members of the Mashpi community can experience a real-life example of a community working together successfully and understand how teamwork can achieve wonderful feats.
Photograph: Members of the Mashpi community learning in the Tahuallullo community estate
Yunguilla managed to involve their entire community through the creation of a corporation in which the members of the community are partners, even women, who now have a very important role in each household by being decision makers equal to men. Additionally, women are in charge of organic jam production, making them an important source of household income. The community is engaged in various activities such as community tourism, organic jam production, cheese production and agroecological production. The profits not only go to the producer, but a percentage goes to the corporation, thus ensuring cooperation among all.