With over 2 million inhabitants spread over 320 square kilometres, Guayaquil is the biggest city in Ecuador, as well as its main economic centre.
In 1994, UN-HABITAT began providing technical assistance to the Municipality of Guayaquil to help it formulate and implement urban development regulatory plans, and to assist the Municipality to modernize and update its technical and operational tools, as requested by the new city administration that took office in 1992. The project is entering its tenth year.
The project began with a series of discussions on alternatives for city growth and territorial planning, leading to a possible urban expansion axis. An urban regulatory plan was drafted for broad-based consultation with key stakeholders, and an extensive database was created to help the Municipality develop local urban indicators in the future.
In parallel, a diagnosis on the routines and procedures within the Municipality was carried out following a participatory methodology involving all levels of municipal staff. Activities were carried out with the support of national and international consultants, as well as staff from local universities and selected local NGOs.
A new Regulatory Plan for City and County Development was formulated and eventually approved in 2000 after a preliminary study of alternatives was produced and discussed in 1996-97;
Organizational reform of the Municipality was proposed and discussed in 1999, following a series of interviews and workshops with representatives of virtually all departments and levels of employees. The reform was approved and implemented in 2000;
A new methodology and plan to promote social development was thoroughly discussed with representatives of five key low-income neighbourhoods, leading to the creation in 2000 of an Interdepartmental Commission on Education and Social Action that became the new Department of Social Action and Education (DASE) the following year;
A new municipal cadastre of urban plots, usage, occupation and fiscal value was created and fully implemented, with a computerized database and online connections to the Real Estate Office in Guayaquil, which helped to improve the tenure status of inhabitants;
A broad-based, computerized database of urban transport, including all bus lines, bus stops, types of vehicles and their capacity, itineraries and volume of passengers, was prepared and systematized with the cooperation of the University of Guayaquil;
A thorough study on urban indicators using UN-HABITAT indicators was carried out in 1998 and 2002 to assess the state of the city. These indicators assisted in municipal and urban planning. The study on Guayaquil?s urban indicators was published in 2003;
A preliminary study to rationalize urban transport by replicating the successful experiences of Curitiba (Brazil), Quito (Ecuador) and Bogota (Colombia) was formulated and approved in 2000. Engineering and architectural projects to implement this study are underway with external funding from the Andean Development Corporation; and
More than 20 specific courses and technical workshops were carried out for the benefit of municipal employees, as well as more than ten specific studies, such as the quality of the asphalt to pave primary streets, the quality of structures and materials needed for earthquake-resistant buildings, etc.
Local improvement plans were formulated for the neighbourhoods of Guasmos, Malpaisingue, Isla Trinitaria, Bastion Popular and Flor de Bastion, as well as the whole downtown area in Guayaquil, representing roughly 35% of the city's population. In-service training courses were designed and carried out for 155 municipal staff working in the following Departments: Urban Planning; Urbanism and Cadastre; Public Works; Human Resources, Organizational Planning and Methods; and General Institutional Planning. Indirect benefits include the promotion of better partnerships between the Municipality and local institutions such as the universities, residents associations and private sector associations and improved local governance;
Regarding the improvement of urban cadastre, more than 50,000 householders enjoyed secure tenure and started housing improvements. An independent evaluation of the project concluded that it was instrumental in improving the Municipality's vision and mission, and helped to foster a better relationship between the Municipality and Guayaquil's inhabitants and enterprises.