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The Ecuador-Colombia Border Integration Zone (ZIFEC- Zona de Integración Fronteriza Ecuador-Colombia) includes different cross-border strategic development areas: the Pacific area, the Andean area, and the Amazon area, and has a total surface of 100,055 km². In Ecuador, the provinces of Carchi (Andean), Esmeraldas (Pacific), Sucumbíos (Amazon) and Imbabura integrate the Zone. In Colombia, it covers the Departments of Nariño (Andean and Pacific) and Putumayo (Amazon).

Map of the Ecuador-Colombia border area
Map of the Ecuador-Colombia border region (Source: Plan Binacional de Integración Fronteriza 2014-2022)

In 2013, the population of the ZIFEC was 3.29 million inhabitants. The majority of the population, 61.27% is located in Colombia; 38.73% in Ecuador. The employed population is mainly engaged in agriculture, livestock, hunting and Forestry (41%), wholesale and retail trade (18%) in Ecuador. In Ecuador, the contribution of the ZIFEC to the national GDP is moderate, with a predominance of the agricultural, fishing and services sectors. For Colombia, the ZIFEC contributes to the national GDP with predominance of service and trade activities. International Cooperation amounts 51% of the investment and the rest corresponds to local governments.

Main challenges of this border area are extreme poverty (mainly in rural areas, work and economic inclusion); access to basic services (education and health, drinking water and sanitation); insecurity and violence; poor infrastructure and connectivity (digital illiteracy, use of ICT, electric interconnection); environmental conditions under threat (deforestation, conservation of protected areas, and integral management of natural resources). The main problems are high rates of informal employment, poor generation of adequate employment, insufficient value added generation, productive chains that energize the local economy, and low levels of technology to improve production processes. It is also a very extensive border zone.

The Plan Binacional de Integración Froteriza (PBIFEC) 2014-2022 was approved in November 2014. The Plan presents the main guidelines for the generation of cross-border policies that to achiever well-being and prosperity for both countries.