Dublin – 29th April, 2016
On Saturday the 16th April, Ecuador was hit with an earthquake which has been described as the worst natural disaster the country has faced in decades. The earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and its epicentre was located in the city of Pedernales, Manabi Province. Recent reports have indicated that over 400 people have died as a result of the earthquake, with more than 4,000 people injured or seriously injured.
Shortly after the earthquake the ILCU Foundation partnered with the WOCCU Foundation to provide a €25,000 donation to help and rebuild the credit unions which had been affected by the disaster. A number of the credit unions that were damaged were located within the epicentre Pedernales, Manabi, a Province with 1.3 million habitants. The Government of Ecuador has estimated that the reconstruction of general infrastructure and buildings will take many years to complete and the cost to do so is estimated to represent 2 to 3 percent of GDP, in monetary terms approx. $3 billion.
Credit unions in Pedernales were seriously affected by the earthquake which brought significant structural damage to the buildings. This damage was so severe that some credit unions remain closed until their buildings are stabilised, and this has resulted in members having limited access to normal credit union services. In some cases credit union members can access their savings through ATM’s, however, some of these ATM’s have been damaged which has stripped members of complete access to their savings and much needed financial services. The project is centred around helping credit unions who suffered the most from the disaster, namely – San Isidro Credit Union, Santa Ana Credit Union, Calceta Credit union and Tarqui Credit Union. Each credit union has reported that major constructional repairs are required; with some credit unions noting that extensive damage to top level floors will require demolition. And sadly in some cases, credit unions were totally destroyed beyond repair and require full demolition and then need to be rebuilt.
The ILCU Foundation will issue a full report with regard to the recovery process on its website ilcufoundation.ie in the coming months as reconstruction begins.