Raising the political and cultural profile of Ecuador’s Afro-descendant population is the goal of a new program from IFES. Americas Program Assistant Mara Krier explained the Promoting the Equitable Participation of Afro-Ecuadorians Project in a presentation on November 15 in Washington. Descendants of the Atlantic slave trade make up 10 percent of the nation’s population, but play a limited role in the political arena. Poverty is a key factor, with a majority of the Afro-descendant population living below the national median income. IFES launched its new program in October to increase Afro-Ecuadorian political participation with training for leaders and political parties, as well as support for non-governmental organizations. The program currently works in three provinces where Afro-Ecuadorians reside: Guayas, Esmeraldas and Valle Del Chota. There also are plans to raise the community’s visibility by sponsoring cultural displays, art festivals and other events that showcase Afro-Ecuadorian history and culture. The program is being implemented with two local partners, Afro-America XXI and CONAMUNECE. It is one of the first projects in Ecuador to work directly with Afro-descendants.