On Monday, the prefect of Azuay, Yaku Pérez, and the mayor of Cuenca, Pedro Palacios, met to discuss the issue of rural development within a joint agenda. After the meeting, Palacios said that “agreements are being made with the Prefecture to join a ‘minga’to improve the road and productive situation in rural areas.”
But that does not address the real issue that is being raised by rural councilor José Fajardo. He says there needs to be a better distribution of the municipality’s funding. Fajardo considers the distribution of money “inequitable.” “Taking into account that the rural population is 33 percent of the total of the canton and we only receive 3.4 percent ($6,227,368) of the resources.”
The parish councils are requesting that this number be at the least doubled. They say this will be the only way to improve the quality of life of the rural area of the canton (which maintains problems of roads and promotion of production).Only 11 percent of the roads and roads are paved in the rural area, most of them in poor condition.
After yesterday’s meeting, Palacios indicated that any budget increase will be defined within a month. In the meantime, technicians will be provided to the rural parishes to collaborate with the boards to develop justified budgets for the next two years (without these “justified” budgets, the municipality will not release funds to any parish).
Priority on Roads
According to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in 2017 Azuay maintained 5,533 kilometers of roads, of which 4,987 kilometers are under the care of the parish councils and the Prefecture of Azuay. The operational capacity of the provincial government, at its maximum power, covers only 54 percent of roads; the other 46 percent are in “regular” or “bad conditions” and only 11 percent of rural roads are paved.
Nearly 25 percent of the rural roads are in Cuenca, which is the only canton that provides participatory budgets to their parishes. The National Council of Parochial Governments, Conagopare, believe that an increase in resources is more than fair.
The president of the union, Janeth Garzón, indicates that the money that is currently delivered is insufficient and notes that the lack of investment in roads is the axis of most problems in rural areas.
“Without good roads, access to health and education is limited, production becomes more expensive, poverty and underdevelopment are generated, something that also affects cities since they receive more migration from the countryside and more expensive food, so this problem is of all, “explained the leader.