By Hugo Cahueñas
When a disaster occurs, problems associated with housing, land and property can be severely exacerbated. This was a key area of concern during the humanitarian response to the earthquake in Ecuador in April 2016. Since that time, a multi-agency Housing Land and Property (HLP) Group, under the leadership of the Ecuador Red Cross, has been actively influencing public policies in order to overcome issues associated to land ownership and security of tenure for people affected by the earthquake.
One key result achieved since the time of the earthquake includes the action brought before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador to request the recognition of the right to adequate and decent housing, regardless of the possession of a formal land title.
In addition to this, the Ecuador Red Cross has supported communities to fulfill the administrative and legal processes necessary to achieve security of housing, land and property for people affected by disasters. In fact, on the 6th of April 2017, the ERC delivered the first deed to a family affected by the earthquake. Anny Loor, a technician for the HLP Group shared her experience in the following words:
“Ihe emotion that I feel is indescribable. We could not expect that this (the delivery of the deed) would happen… it is a new hope that has been given to our communities”.
Key results of the advocacy work undertaken by the HLP Group also include the adoption of a Ministerial Agreement by the Ministry of Development and Housing (MoDH) which includes provisions supporting owners who do not possess a formal title, and considers them as beneficiaries of earthquake reconstruction programs. More information on these achievements is available here.