Albina Ruiz

Ciudad Saludable
Year founded: 

Video 1 Video 2 (Spanish)

By turning waste collection in urban slums into a profitable enterprise, Ciudad Saludable is improving the health conditions of millions of poor people in Peru.

Focus: Energy, Enterprise Development, Environment, Waste Management
Geographic Area of Impact: Peru
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 6 million (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 1.5 million (2009)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 45%
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Solid waste management is a serious problem in Peru. When Albina Ruiz started her work in Cono Norte, one of Lima’s largest slums, some 1,000 tons of garbage were being generated daily, only half of which was collected by municipal workers. The remainder was left to accumulate in stinking waste heaps or strewn along public roads and in vacant lots. This situation exists in towns throughout the country. Waste is also often dumped into rivers, contaminating the water that is a drinking source for many poor families.

Innovation and Activities
Through Ciudad Saludable (Healthy City), Albina Ruiz has turned waste collection in Peruvian urban slum areas into a profitable enterprise. Working in partnership with municipalities, Ciudad Saludable has organized over 1,500 waste collectors, creating employment and improving health and living conditions for the +6 million people living in these poorer areas. In upscale suburbs where the city government collects the trash, waste collection payment rates are below 40%, whereas in the districts where Ciudad Saludable’s microenterprises work, payment rates are over 80%.

Ciudad Saludable provides waste management services that are more dependable and less expensive than those provided by municipal governments. It uses creative marketing incentives to encourage people to pay a modest monthly fee for trash collection. It targets women and primary school children with health promotion messages, for example, emphasizing that waste collection will improve their families’ health at the cost equivalent of only one bottle of their husband’s favourite beer each month. In barren hillside districts, the organization regularly rewards paying customers by planting trees in front of their houses. Prompt payers receive gifts such as kitchen baskets.

Ciudad Saludable was instrumental in the creation of the first law in Peru, as well as Latin America, to regulate the activities of waste recyclers. It has also established two other organizations: Peru Waste Innovation, a consulting firm specializing in solid waste management; and Healthy Cities International (New York), which is in charge of replicating Ciudad Saludable’s model around the world.

The Entrepreneur
The daughter of poor but hard-working parents, Albina Ruiz grew up in the Peruvian jungle. She was fortunate enough to attend a local convent school where the nuns instilled a love of learning and responsibility for others. She was the only woman in her class at the National University of Engineering where she majored in industrial engineering. She went on to receive an MA in Ecology and Environmental Management from the Ricardo Palma University and a PhD in Chemistry from Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, Spain. Ruiz and Ciudad Saludable have received a number of honours, including the 2007 Globe Energy Award; 2006 Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment; 2006 Global Development Network Award; and 2006 Bravo Latin Trade Award as Environmentalist of the Year in Latin America.