Healthy Amazon

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Healthy Amazon

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We combine sanitation and nutrition in a single initiative: our waste management program produces compost for family gardens.
About You
Project Street Address

Esq. Jr. San Martín y Jr. Lidia Pinedo

Project City

San Francisco de Yarinacocha

Project Province/State


Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Year organization founded:


Year initiative began:


Service/activity focus:


If Service/activity focus is "other" please define in 1-2 words below:

Sanitation/Disease Prevention, Nutrition

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What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

We combine sanitation and nutrition in a single initiative: our waste management program produces compost for family gardens.

Describe what makes your idea unique--different from all others in the field.

We have designed a low-cost waste management system that fits the needs of communities in the Amazon and also helps feed children! We are starting to use the compost produced from our “waste” to grow vegetables to remedy child malnutrition.
Through an educational program, we have “nudged” people to change their traditional habits. Before, people were burning their waste and throwing garbage in the streets. Now, 95% of the community participates in our waste management program and even sort their waste for us! Now, we have to nudge people to make good choices about the food they grow and what they feed their kids. We will nudge people in the community, most of who are already involved in agriculture, to devote some of their land to growing the food that their kids need to grow and stay healthy. This, of course, won’t be easy. But we would nudge people by showing them the health benefits for their kids and giving them an incentive – free compost from their waste – for their land.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how did you create them?

We have a partnership with Ciudad Saludable, a leading NGO in the field of waste management, who was responsible for designing the waste management plan for the community.
We are also partners with AMANCO Peru, who design innovative technologies for rural development. They have donated a bio-digester that will provide cooking gas for the local high school lunch hall, where we will implement a nutritional plan.
We also have a partnership with ANIA (Association for Children and their
Environment), an NGO devoted to children participation in whose volunteer program we participated in the past.
We have recently started a partnership with the Regional Governnent of Ucayali to provide compost for an agro-forestry project in the community.
Finally, we are partners with INIA (National Institute of Agricultural Innovation), who provide guidance with the agricultural side of our work. The partnership started after they asked us to run a composting workshop.

In which sector do these partners work? (Check all that apply)

Citizen sector (non profits, NGOs) .

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

We have provided 2000 people with appropriate waste management. Now we want to rescue 500 kids from malnutrition by growing the food they need.

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation.

Before the implementation of our program, the community of San Francisco de Yarinacocha (Peru) had no waste management service. With our system, we have reduced the risk of preventable illnesses associated with waste contamination for every person in the community.
Our program gives employment to 5 community members who work as project coordinators or operation technicians. Part of their income is generated by the project and we hope that soon all of their income will come from project-generated funds.
Right now, every indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon lacks appropriate waste management and most of their children suffer from malnutrition. We hope that our model will be soon exported to other communities that need it. Our dream is to reach all indigenous communities in the Amazon and equip them with appropriate waste management.

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation?

Our initiative was approved and is supported by the Authorities Council of the community of San Francisco. Currently, we are working with them to implement a pay system for the service.
Also, a representative from the Municipality of Padre Marquez, which governs 10 indigenous communities and 11 hamlets, recently came to solicit our services in their district. Now, we hope to nudge other regional authorities to provide waste management services to the communities in their areas.

How many people does your innovation serve or plan to serve? Exactly who will benefit from your innovation?

Our waste management program serves approximately 2000 people in San Francisco. We hope that our family garden program will serve approximately 500 kids who have very few vegetables in their diet. We are also planning to build a lunch hall for the local school to benefit 200 students.
Finally, our compost serves 80 artisans who use it to grow trees to make hand-crafts. Our compost will also serve 100 farmers thanks to our partnership with the agro-forestry project promoted by the government.

What is the key decision that you are trying to influence through your innovation/design?

There are two main decisions. The first is for people to separate their trash at home into organic materials, recyclables and non-reusables. This facilitates our job since our collection system is based on this format. The second is for parents to grow vegetables in their family gardens to provide their children with balanced diets. Getting parents to feed their kids vegetables seems simple, but the fact that the staple diet includes close to zero vegetables makes it a hard habit to change.

What have you learned about how people respond to your innovation/design?

When we first implemented the waste management program, very few people separated their waste at home. After nudging them with an educational program and house to house canvassing in which the benefits of trash separation were laid out to them, we got almost 95% of households to separate their trash. It was just a matter of teaching people and showing them how the action benefited them.
We now need to nudge people to start growing vegetables in a similar way.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Our initiative was financed by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility of Swarthmore College and by Ciudad Saludable, who provided funds for the first year.
We now generate some funds to pay our workers by selling recyclables and compost to businesses and associations.
We also opened a thrift shop in December, through which we provide inexpensive, high quality clothes to the community and at the same time generate the much needed revenue to maintain the project.
Finally, we are working with the Authorities Council to coordinate the logistics of a pay system to charge for the collection service to cover personnel costs.
We are contemplating starting a commercial reforestation project and our own vegetable garden to sell produce.

Financing source
Annual budget

Annual budget for 2008: $6,323

Annual revenue generated

Annual revenue generated 2008: $2,000

Number of staff (full-time, part-time, volunteers)

5 Employees, 5 local volunteers and 2 current international volunteers.

What are the main financial barriers, and how do you plan to address them?

By the end of 2009, we’ll stop receiving funds from our sponsors and will have to rely on our own sustainability initiatives. A further barrier is the current financial climate, which made prices of recyclables, one of our main income sources, drop by 50%.
We are now implementing a business plan to overcome these barriers. The thrift shop and the reforestation projects are part of this plan, which will allow us to expand our work. Implementing a pay system will help us cover for personnel costs.

Aside from financial sustainability, how do you plan to grow and scale the initiative?

First, we hope our initiative will grow in San Francisco itself with the family garden project, which is a part not yet completed. On a larger scale, we plan to reach other communities and influence policy makers in the Amazon region to implement low-cost waste management solutions based on our model. Reaching regional health authorities will be crucial in our efforts. For this purpose, we have launched a blog and have started contributing to newspapers in the area.

The Story
What was the motivation or defining moment that led to the creation of this innovation? Tell the story.

Back in 2004, when I first came to San Francisco for a few months and organized a handful of community clean-ups, I came out of the house I was staying one morning and looked out over the trash that we had collected the day before (it was laid out in the front yard because there was nowhere else to responsibly put it) and thought to myself “Now what do we with it?”. It then became apparent that some form of waste management was needed to keep the community clean and healthy. I returned in 2005 to develop a low-tech and ecological solution, and that is when I realized that the solution was based on the principal of natural cycles where waste is non-existent; that eliminating waste, and even the idea of waste, was a vital step in sustainable societal development.
A further defining moment came when, once the collection and treatment system had been implemented, we became aware of the great potential of one of the raw-materials we had produced: compost. At first we simply sold it or donated it to farmers, but after receiving great feedback we soon realized that we had the capacity to use it ourselves to address what we considered the next most-pressing problem in the community: malnutrition. Since then, we have been planning to expand the scope of our work and implement family vegetable gardens.

Please name and provide a personal bio of the social innovator behind this initiative.

Brian, an anthropologist from UNL, has been working on waste management and sanitation issues in San Francisco since 2004. Soon after starting his work, he realized that the waste problem could not be solved with sporadic activities and clean-ups, but required an integrated approach in which “waste” was regarded as a resource to be recovered. Brian has also worked on implementing composting latrines in the community, where many families lack toilets and don’t have the money to build normal ones.

At what stage is this initiative?

Implementation and impact .

What resources would you need to take your initiative to the next stage?

This field has not been completed. (500 characters or less)

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (Confidential)

For our family garden project, we need guidance and advice on the agricultural aspect. We expect to get this from our partnership with the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation. Similarly, we will need help from nutrition experts in order to evaluate the nutritional situation in the community and design a nutrition plan. We are currently in the process of establishing a partnership with a school in Lima in hopes that they will provide this help.