Before the COVID-19 pandemic, informal workers in Ecuador made 56.7% of the country’s labour economy1, and women made 40.2 % of all informal work2. Up to 2018, only 55,5% of the population had access to sewage services, percentage which dropped to 36,4% in rural areas3. In a context where the government has failed to provide solutions to long-lasting concerns in terms of labour, education, basic services and healthcare, different communities rapidly organized through local solidarity chains, in a political exercise that allowed not only for the re-significance of education, health, and well-being, but enabled other forms of community-based political economies.
Timbiré, a rural parish located in the province of Esmeraldas, situated at the northern border of the country, like most rural communities, has historically been deprived in terms of education, healthcare, and basic services. Before the pandemic, community organizers from the parish council were demanding access to clean water, as nearby rivers had been contaminated due to mining actives. When the state of emergency was declared, the parish of Timbiré, mainly inhabited by Black single mothers who work in agriculture, were not only in an extremely vulnerable position as they already had precarious access to clean water, but also because they couldn’t get their products out.4