This profile was prepared when Albina Ruiz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Albina Ruiz is convinced that the inadequacy of public-sector solid waste disposal services, and the consequent accumulation of huge masses of garbage and other forms of refuse in urban areas, pose increasingly serious public health threats. She also believes that the most promising solution to the problem is a community-based initiative that combines an integrated system of micro-enterprises engaged in the collection, storage, recycling, composting and re-use of solid waste with related public information and education programs. Working through a nongovernmental organization that has succeeded in enlisting the cooperation of the relevant public authorities and marshaling the necessary funding from a wide variety of sources, Albina has developed, and is now expanding, a remarkably effective demonstration in poor and crowded communities in the northern outskirts of Lima. With the aid of a revolving loan fund, she has stimulated the formation of micro-enterprises that are engaged in the collection and processing of garbage and trash throughout the area. In addition to producing marked improvements in health and living conditions, the program is generating much-needed employment opportunities for community residents. Building on the success of the current initiative, Albina intends to expand her initiative to other parts of Lima and to other major cities in Peru.