“La Y de la Laguna” (pronounced “La Yeh”) and the thirty village communities are situated in the Region “El Páramo” in the national ecological reserve entitled “Mache Chindul”, a national park with natural tropical rain forest and a lagoon in the province Esmeraldas. The capital city of the region, Quinindé, with approximately 30.000 inhabitants and a local hospital is situated 40 kilometres from La Y. From Quinindé, “camionetas” (pick-up-trucks) and “rancheras” (old motor trucks with wooden benches on the load floor) make their way through country roads, which are hard to drive. It may take about four hours to reach La Y, especially during rainy season.
The name of the central village “La Y de la Laguna“ means “the y-parting of the ways“ because this is the place where the road diverges to reach the small village communities in the region, mostly only accessible by foot or horse/mule. Such a path may lead to a ten or twelve hours walk with extreme conditions, especially in rainy reason.
The inhabitants of the province Manabí settled in this region decades ago. Nowadays, the population counts approximately 6.000 inhabitants, belonging to the ethnic groups of mestizos, Afro-Americans and native inhabitants (“indígenas”). Due to a lack of data, more exact information about the population is not available.
As the settlement of El Páramo was only disapprovingly accepted by the government, there has been little government support.
The people living in the area do not have access to fresh water pipes, garbage disposal, electricity (in La Y it is available intermittently)). Too few village schools are available for people’s education. Earnings from poorly-paid jobs within agriculture lead to low family incomes. Nature – people’s biggest treasure in the Region – is affected and destroyed by agricultural practices.
Before the establishment of the primary healthcare centre, high costs and difficult travel conditions to Quinindé (especially in the rainy season) hampered access to healthcare.