Tomorrow's Quito

Our objectives in facilitating change in Quito include conducting a city-wide analysis of decision-making, knowledge barriers, urbanisation dynamics, and the relationship between risk and poverty.

  Elisa Sevilla PerezProfessor of History, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito Hub Lead

Summary

Formally San Francisco de Quito, it is the capital and most populous city of Ecuador.  Perched between the steep slopes of the Pichincha volcano to the west and those of an active geological fault system to the east, it is highly prone to multiple hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides. Quito is also rapidly expanding, and in 2018 became Ecuador’s largest city.

A new set of national legal frameworks requires risk management to be seen as a process for long-term planning involving every level of society – from national government to individual families – and responsibility for delivering these ambitions has been assigned to local governments. As a result of major recent disaster events, this is supported by a general awareness across society of the importance of disaster risk reduction.

 

Quito demographic data

 

Quito Challenges

Earthquakes

Quito, is in a seismically active region. In 1987, a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 caused widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, and resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives. There have been more than 500 seismic events recorded in the Quito area between 2010 and 2023, ranging in magnitude from 2.0 to 7.0.

Source: Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

 

 

 

2016 Ecuador Earthquake

M7.8 earthquake that affected several cities in Ecuador on the 16th of April 2016. 
The earthquake left at least 671 dead, 6,274 injured and 28,678 dislodged people. 

Photo: Dolores Ochoa/AP
 

Volcanic Eruptions

Quito is located near several active volcanoes, including Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Cotopaxi last erupted in 2015, spewing ash and gas into the atmosphere and causing disruptions to air travel and agriculture in the surrounding areas.

 

2015 Cotopaxi eruption

Cotopaxi volcano, 21 September 2015. View is towards the south; the plume is rising 1.5 km above the summit and drifting WSW. Photo by B. Bernard, courtesy of IG.

 

 

Landslides

Due to Quito’s steep topography and heavy rainfall during the rainy season, landslides are a significant hazard. For example, in 2008, Quito experienced a large landslide triggered by heavy rainfall, which resulted in casualties and damage to infrastructure.

(Secretaría de Gestión de Riesgos de Ecuador, www.gestionderiesgos.gob.ec).

Floods

During the rainy season heavy rainfall can cause flash floods and riverine flooding. For example, in 2020, Quito experienced widespread flooding due to intense rainfall, resulting in damage to infrastructure, displacement of people, and disruption to daily life.

 

2022 Quito Landslide

A huge landslide triggered by heavy rainfall killed at least 22 people in Quito in 2022. Photo: Reuters

 

 

Key stakeholders

Institutions:

  • Ministry of Urban Development and Housing,
  • National Planning Secretariat,
  • Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito,
  • Security and Governance Secretariat of Quito,
  • Territory, Habitat and Housing Secretariat of Quito,
  • La Delicia Zonal Administration.

These institutions were engaged through the urban lab and several workshops at different stages of the project. Also, members of the La Delicia Zonal Administration have attended some of the workshops with the community.

 

Community:

  • Inhabitants of the Santa Rosa de Pomasqui neighborhood (case study).

The community was engaged through direct contact with the president of the neighbourhood board of Santa Rosa de Pomasqui, who helped disseminate information about Tomorrow's Cities to the entire community. Additionally, several workshops were conducted for each of the work packages, providing a space for questions and interactions with community members.

 

 

Quito Future Visioning

CHANGE

 

Quito’s approach using the TCDSE.

Our objectives in facilitating change in Quito include conducting a city-wide analysis of decision-making, knowledge barriers, urbanisation dynamics, and the relationship between risk and poverty. This analysis will help identify structural barriers to risk-sensitive development and pathways to integrate planning into disaster risk reduction. We will also explore local case studies to understand the impacts of multiple hazards, community vulnerabilities, and capacities, and identify co-produced actions to reduce risk.

During the interactions, meetings and workshops with both the community and institutions our researchers learned that:

  • There needs to be a deep understanding of the socio-political context of the urban area.

  • There is a lack of communication and coordination among the different institutions and agencies responsible for risk management and urban planning. Moreover, the methodologies employed by each government agency tend to vary from one office to another.

  • Public institutions and agencies have access to various tools and knowledge pertaining to hazards, but they may face limitations in analysing and utilizing this information due to a shortage of human and technical resources.

  • It is crucial to establish effective communication between researchers, technical teams, and decision-makers, while also considering the experiences and perspectives of citizens, in order to build and reproduce risk and shape relevant technical information for multilevel articulation within public institutions.

  • To ensure the success of a project in disaster prevention and mitigation, it is essential to establish clear communication with the community, manage expectations regarding scope and goals, uphold research ethics, communicate the project's benefits to the community, and present results in a way that empowers them to make informed choices and reach decision-makers.

Quito Publications
File upload
City:

Measurement of field hydraulic conductivity for a Quito soil

In Quito, Ecuador, landslides present a significant threat to communities settled on hillsides and ravine slopes, and geotechnical data is needed to assess slope stability.

File upload
City:

Envisioning the future by learning from the past: Arts and humanities in interdisciplinary tools for promoting a culture of risk

Disaster risk is the result of complex interactions between the drivers of vulnerability such as poverty and lack of access to resources and the impacts from multiple hazards (wit

File upload
City:

Developing a geotechnical database to improve slope stability assessments in Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador, is a city at risk of many hazards including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides, compounded by the widespread presence of problematic volcanic soils known as Cangahua.

File upload
City:

Evaluating night-time light sources and correlation with socio-economic development using high-resolution multi-spectral Jilin-1 satellite imagery of Quito, Ecuador

Atificial light at night (ALAN) has positive and negative effects on social, economic, environmental, and ecological systems, and will increase with urban expansion.

File upload
City:
Computational Model

Modelling the effect of hydraulic conductivity variability on slope stability calculations for a site in South-East Quito, Ecuador

Rainfall-triggered landslides are increasingly a concern in rapidly urbanising areas around the globe.

File upload
City:

Enhancing disaster risk resilience using greenspace in urbanising Quito, Ecuador

Using satellite data, researchers from the Tomorrow’s Cities Hub, analysed Quito’s recent historical urban expansion and multi-hazard risks to identify green spaces that can