"Without education there is no conservation. Protecting the Amazon is my cause."
Yachana Foundation brings entrepreneurism, innovation, ideas and concern for the people and the environment to this work. The knowledge of the Amazon region and its people, and the positive and successful work Douglas McMeekin has been able to achieve over 37 years working in the Amazon through the integrated development model of the Yachana Foundation and its many activities has made Yachana a world leader in sustainable development.
About the area of
Yachana is located in the Amazon Region of Ecuador near the Napo River. Here are a few facts about our beautiful home.
The Napo River is a tributary to the Amazon River that rises in Ecuador on the eastern side of the Andean volcanoes.
The Napo basin covers an area of 27,000 km2.
Ecuador has been known to be part of the Amazon Basin since its discovery by the Spanish Explorer Francisco Orellana, when he departed Quito in 1541.
In what is know today as El Coca, Orellana you'll find the Coca River (runoff from Antisana Volcano) and the Napo River (from the Cotopaxi Volcano runoff).
The Napo River passes through diverse ecologically regions including two biosphere reserves (Sumaco and Yasuni).
In these regions more species of plant and trees can be found in a few hectares than in all of North America.
A Brief History of the Yachana Foundation
For 6 years working as an environmental and cultural consultant for eight different oil companies in the Amazon region, Douglas McMeekin did a lot to help people and the environment. But in 1991 with strong social conviction, he was not satisfied with this job, so he resigned and began the process of creating the Yachana Foundation.
The first contract for the foundation was in 1992 through the Ministry of Education with funding from UNICEF to build schools and do teacher training in 27 communities in the upper Napo River region.
In 1995, looking for a way for the Foundation to be self-sustaining, we created the YACHANA LODGE Company, the world renowned Geotourism facility on the Napo River. The profit from the Lodge goes to the foundation to support its education program. Yachana Lodge provides visitors with a window into the life of the people living in the Amazon Region.
In 1997, the foundation started the Mondaña Medical Clinic, the only health facility in the region at that time serving over 8,000 inhabitants. Accessible only by canoe.
In 1998, Yachana Foundation started a comprehensive project working with farmers in three provinces in the cultivation of cacao. The cacao project provided infrastructure and technical assistance in the planting and commercialization of 3,400 hectares of cacao for over 2,500 farmers in the Amazon region of the country.
In 2005, seeing the lack of relevant education for the youth from the Amazon, he started the YACHANA TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL. This innovative, hands-on, practical education program provided students with the skills to gain work in the region without having to migrate to the cities or immigrate to other countries. The world financial crisis forced the closure of this school in 2012.
In June 2008, Douglas McMeekin, Director of the Yachana Foundation, was selected as an Ashoka Fellow, a distinguished position and recognition as a leading social entrepreneur.
The Foundation has an extensive micro credit program operating in five communities. This has proved vitally important for local farmers who can not get conventional bank loans.
After the earthquake of April 16, 2016 in Manabí, Ecuador, a construction training program was started with residents of the province, with the objective that these skills were applied in the reconstruction process, through an agreement with the national board of artisans, the participants obtained their respective title.
Constantly concerned with the destruction of the rainforest, the Foundation owns 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of rainforest that is designated as a protected forest and has created a conservation program to protect additional rainforest in the area.
2016 - 2020
For health reasons, Douglas sold the Yachana Lodge facilities in 2016, which were completely separated from the training and education program infrastructure. With the funding from the sale, he has concentrated his energies on the training programs and a program for the elderly people in the provinces of Napo and Orellana. The training facilities have dormitories for visitors so tourism will continue to be an important part of the program when people can again travel after the pandemic.
The future of social and environmental protection depends on each one of us, we have created different participation programs for the Yachana Foundation to continue progress on it's various projects helping the local community and conservation of the Amazon.
2022 - present
The new Yachana Lodge and Education Center is fully open and involved in sharing the unique space of the Amazon with people from around the world. Hosting various school and research groups has provided many neat opportunities and started many new eco-projects. Conservation continues to be a priority as we help find the balance in living in the Amazon and protecting it. Volunteers regularly join us for various projects as well as assist at the local school teaching English.