A Single Photo From The Ecuador Earthquake Illustrates A Pressing Problem That Occurs In The Aftermath
The latest in a series of earthquakes across the Pacific "Ring of Fire" struck the central region of Ecuador on Saturday, killing over 230 people across the small South American country and injuring hundreds more. As journalists rushed into the area to cover the disaster, astonishing and heartbreaking images of the destruction flooded the media, showing collapsed bridges and crumbled houses. However, one image represents the help that the people of Ecuador will need when beginning the long journey to recovery.
In the photo, taken by Marcos Pin Mendez for Getty Images, women lay on makeshift beds in a park to rest in Guayaquil, the country's most populous city and one of the hardest hit by Saturday's earthquake. And the image highlights how important it is to know that after devastating natural disasters such as this one, many people are left homeless.
Ecuador is one of the poorest countries in South America, with a GDP per capita of only about $6,000 (for reference, the US GDP per capita is about $53,000.) About 13 percent of citizens in Guayaquil and 8 percent in Quito, two of the largest and most heavily affected cities in the country, live below the poverty line. That number goes even higher in the rural regions away from the commercial opportunities of the big cities, such as the coastal town of Muisne, located just a few miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake. In the aftereffects of the quake, tens of thousands may be homeless, especially those who are most financially disadvantaged.
The photo also calls attention to those most at risk in the aftermath of an economic and social crisis in Ecuador. Six out of every 10 Ecuadorian women have been victims of some form of violence, according to the Global Information Society Watch, and that's during decent economic conditions. Furthermore, economic opportunities for women are limited — only about half of all Ecuadorian women have a wage or salaried job. With hundreds of deaths and injuries across the country, as well as physical destruction of workplaces, many families may be left without an income. Ecuadorian women will likely have an especially difficult time regaining economic stability in the wake of this disaster, and will need extra support from foreign aid.
As Ecuador starts to make its way back from the tragedy of this deadly earthquake, the country and its citizens will likely need help from others to begin moving forward again. This picture is a meaningful representation of how much help will be needed to get the country and its most vulnerable citizens back on track. You can find more information on how to help the victims of the Ecuador earthquake here.