Ciudad Saludable

In developing countries participatory methods are widely used in areas such as conflict resolution, local development and climate change mitigation. These are welcome innovations in countries where the broader institutional context does not always guarantee level playing fields for all stakeholders in society. The inclusive context Ciudad Saludable is able to create allows for disadvantaged waste-pickers to improve their livelihoods while at the same time improving the efficiency of waste management for the local authorities.

Ciudad Saludable, based in Lima, Peru, deals with community-based solid waste management, with the goal to improve sanitation and health conditions. The organisation was initiated by Albina Ruiz. Of key importance to Ciudad Saludable is the inclusion of the local informal waste-pickers in the city’s waste management system. The system they promote is organised around a network of employment- and income-generating micro-enterprises at every stage of the waste management cycle.

Ciudad Saludable see themselves as change agents, foremost making change in the minds of people. Creating confidence amongst the waste-pickers is an important first step, as they are normally harassed by others, such as the local police and gangs. That is why it is essential to give them the opportunity, trust and confidence to see themselves as business entrepreneurs.

To enable waste pickers to actually function as business entrepreneurs, Ciudad Saludable needed to change the minds of others as well. Ongoing dialogue has been crucial in establishing and strengthening partnerships with various public, private and social actors: recyclers associations, municipal governments, national authorities and groups and business organisation.

1500 waste-pickers have been brought into official employment and the municipality has saved 20% on its waste management budget by working with waste-pickers. Ciudad Saludable is now extending its projects to India, by means of skills transfer and toolboxes, to allow local leaders to establish similar projects.

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