AuthorKesse, James Robert.
Committee ChairPederson, Leland R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDuring the past four decades, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged as important agents of change in Latin America. NGO actions are influencing the cultural-ecological relationships in upper Canar, an indigenous area in the southern highlands of Ecuador. Since the early 1960s, population growth, changing national polices, commercialization of the subsistence economy, migration, and greater contact with the global economy have dramatically affected rural conditions in upper Canar. In a contemporary context, the lands and society of the region are fragile and the traditional agricultural system is not sustainable. The Ecuadorian government has failed to address the needs at the grassroots, leaving an institutional void that is being filled by NGOs. NGOs are promoting sustainable development, and through their actions inevitably contribute to the change process. Sustainable development is difficult to define because of uncertainties related to time and scale. However, six measures of sustainable development specific to upper Canar are economic (production and income), ecological (soil fertility and soil erosion), organizational (community leadership, community cohesion, and indigenous cultural practices), migration, population growth, and the NGO impact on the larger policy environment. An NGO must address each of these measures in order to promote the larger process of sustainable development. Case studies of PLAN International in Sunicorral and CARE-PROMUSTA in Ramos Huray indicate that the NGO impact on sustainable development is mixed; the signs of success are neither clear nor absolute. However, NGOs are contributing to land use changes emphasizing dairying and vegetable production, patterns that have consequences for labor utilization. The implementation of agroecological land use methods and conservation measures remains slow and sporadic. NGOS emphasize strengthening community organization by using the methods of participatory development with implications for leadership changes and conflict. Each NGO in the study addresses different aspects of sustainability and makes incremental steps toward the larger goal. However, despite notable successes at the community level, the NGO impact outside the space of a community is limited. I define a critical role for what I call the "activist NGO" in influencing societal change and sustainable development.
Degree ProgramGeography and Regional Development