In order to preserve the quality of life of residents of northern Lima, innovators decided to examine new means for providing access to potable water, an environmentally sound sewage system, and healthy disposal of solid waste. Additional goals of the Environmental Improvement project included generation of citizen participation and co-responsibility along with government groups for new public works projects, and development of technical, administrative, economic, and financial capacity amongst the locality’s marginalized and impoverished residents. The project implemented a new initiative for managing water and resources with the integrated participation of Peru’s state water company SEDAPAL, the Association for Social Promotion and Development (ADPES), the Municipality, and the citizenry and their respective communal organizations.
One of the most important results of the work undertaken by this project was development of new modes of cooperation between the city’s leaders and its citizenry. By mobilizing the community for active participation, the city was also able to outsource ditch-digging work to the beneficiaries of the project, allowing the dual use of city funds for poverty alleviation and for construction of new sanitation facilities.
The first stage of the project began in April 2004 with the formation of a strategic partnership with the Association of Social Promotion and Development to approve the proposed cleaning projects. In July 2004, a publicity campaign began to inform the populace of this joint governmental and non-governmental project. In January 2005, construction began on a solid waste disposal system and new filters to improve the quality of available water. During this construction, an Environmental School was created to educate local families about their local environment and the city’s projects to create green areas in these marginal, poor neighborhoods.
This project has provided a model for integrated and participatory innovation, particularly in the area of environmental cleanup of marginal zones. The city issued a decree to institutionalize proper handling of solid waste through unconventional new technologies; these legislative changes have also come about through opening communication channels between local government and civil society organizations.
By providing targeted funding to social organizations to take part in public works construction, the municipality has been able to encourage the growth of local leadership amongst the citizens of northern Lima. Shared responsibility for new sanitation works has not only generated participation in construction and use of new technologies, but has also established precedents for negotiation between the city and its residents on such diverse issues as the municipal budget and healthcare provisions.
The objective of this innovation was to improve the health of the environment in the north end of Lima, to develop and institutionalize technologies for maintaining sanitary conditions, and to build capacities amongst marginal populations to participate in government projects. It has been successful in generating a sense of ownership amongst the residents for their new environmental service provisions, including improved potable water access, sewage systems, and waste disposal units. This project has also produced a sense of citizenship and authority for community members in their dealings with the municipal government. Using this project as a model, the state government has also been able to plan similar environmental projects in other marginalized and threatened regions of the area.