Skoll Foundation


Ciudad Saludable

Skoll Awardee(s): Albina Ruiz
Award Year: 2006
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Health

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“In marginal communities, there is a deficit in basic services, especially waste collection. There are many preconceived notions about these poor sectors of society. Some say they don’t want to pay for services, some say they don’t like to be clean. Our work proves that when prices are reasonable, they are very good payers and they prefer to live in clean areas. They put all their effort to make it happen.”

Sub-Issue: Sanitation Impoverished neighborhoods are commonly overrun with garbage and waste as the result of failed service markets. The poor grow resigned to living in unhealthy conditions.

The Skoll Awardee: Albina Ruiz started worrying about health and environmental problems caused by garbage in Peru when she was a student studying industrial engineering. After writing her thesis, she designed a community-managed system of waste collection that she hoped would serve as a model for urban and rural communities in Peru. The design featured local enterprises collecting and processing garbage, reducing waste volume in municipal landfills, and spinning off microenterprises to produce marketable products. She completed a doctoral degree in chemical engineering in Spain, returning to Lima in 2001. She founded Ciudad Saludable (Healthy City) with an ambition to develop it as a financially viable and sustainable business that would implement her design and engage poor communities as customers. CS’s model engages micro-entrepreneurs in impoverished communities to take charge of collecting and processing garbage for extremely low service fees, supported by creative marketing and educational programs to entice families to use services and pay for them regularly – effectively addressing the crucial element of behavioral change to sustainable waste management. At the time of the Award, the model was working in several of Peru’s major cities and being replicated in Venezuela; CS’s ambition was to grow to 20 major cities in Peru and build a franchise model for replications in other countries as well.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • CS has organized more than 1,500 waste collectors, creating employment and improving health and living conditions for more than 6 million people living in poor urban and rural regions in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and India.
  • CS reaches 30 percent of Peru’s population with waste collection services in 1,835 cities.
  • In partnership with recycling companies, the CS team have developed a distance education program that has trained 300 professionals from Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru in the complete management of residues.
  • Instrumental in the creation of the first law in Peru (also the first in Latin America) to regulate recycling, adopted in 2010.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.