The rural communities of Camarones and Tabuga, like many other coastal communities in Ecuador have suffered from ongoing economic hardship and unsustainable poverty-driven extraction of natural resources. There is a need to generate sustainable, locally-based economic activities to enhance economic prosperity and preserve valuable natural resources.
Since 2009, Ceiba has worked with two local women’s groups, one in Camarones dedicated to developing a natural soap from the oil extracted from the seed of the local piñon plant (Jatropha curcas), and another in Tabuga that has begun producing fabric bags to replace plastic and to provide packaging for coffee and other local products. The hope is to elevate some members of the community beyond subsistence-based living, maintain a harmonious interaction with the environment, and help women gain some degree of economic independence and opportunity. The production of a traditional soap can help supplant modern commercial soaps that are damaging local waterways, and the re-usable bags aim to reduce pollution of the land and ocean by plastic bags. The products can also provide a source of revenue through sale to tourists, and distribution to local shops and hotels.