What is it about?

This paper addresses the disconnect between national urban development policy and local urban planning outcomes in Ecuador. Our research provides a case study of a small town in a poor, rural region to consider how local government officials implement national urban policy guidelines. The national government aims to promote the economic and population growth of small and mid-sized cities to reduce the dominance of Ecuador's two largest cities: Guayaquil and Quito. In their view, a network of smaller cities would create positive development outcomes by allowing more people to access urban services and markets. In our study location, local government officials have used the national urban agenda to justify the unnecessary expansion of urban areas.

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Why is it important?

This paper provides insight into Ecuador's national urban agenda and the development ideologies that shape it. We highlight the role of local government in shaping urban development outcomes. Our paper describes how national urban development plans can be co-opted by local governments in ways that contradict the goals and ideologies of the plan.


This paper questions the idea that the expansion of cities, in the absence of other economic initiatives, can stimulate development and improve the lives of rural communities. We also highlight the way that rural urbanisation can perpetuate neo-extractivism and entrench state control over rural areas, peoples, and resources.

Elizabeth Shebell
McGill University

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This page is a summary of: Planning for the Buen Vivir: socialism, decentralisation and urbanisation in rural Ecuador, International Development Planning Review, October 2019, Liverpool University Press, DOI: 10.3828/idpr.2019.16.
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