Lola Samaniego Idrovo
This profile was prepared when Lola Samaniego Idrovo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Lola organizes poor communities, working closely with women, who have sought her help in overcoming the difficult situations they face as a result of their poverty. With these communities she builds dynamic associations of solidarity that devote themselves to establishing affordable and dignified housing, economic opportunities through agricultural projects, and recreation zones within ecologically-sound villages. These communities are located near large cities to ensure access to services, markets and schools.The associations involved in Lola's project buy the land with their own financial contributions, ensuring that they are the true owners of the village and not just another group receiving a government handout. Unlike the small concrete block structures typically provided by government housing projects, the homes the associations build will be attractive and comfortable, allowing for access to nature, agricultural resources and dignity. They employ a system of "minga," traditional community cooperation, to prepare the land and to construct the houses. The villages are designed to provide alternatives sources for income, to include centers for on-going education, community meetings and recreation, with concern for maintaining the natural ecology of the land. Through the development of her idea, Lola has created a system to empower women by recreating a village culture for communities who have been living in slum-like settings.