SOIL visits Sanima in Lima

Researchers touring Pamplona

SOIL’s Chief Operating Officer Nick Preneta and Research Associate Maya Lubeck-Schricker traveled to Lima, Peru last month to meet up with fellow research partners from the Off Grid Cities project for a series of presentations and discussions about progress to date, challenges faced, and steps forward. Off Grid Cities research focuses on an emerging off-grid sanitation paradigm in the form of container-based sanitation (CBS) across four country contexts – Haiti, Peru, Kenya and South Africa. The group works to address sustainable city-wide sanitation to meet the vastly unmet need for safe sanitation services in rapidly expanding urban populations around the globe. 

Researchers gathered in Lima to discuss urban sanitation.

Maya and Nick joined academic researchers from Cranfield University (UK), University of Leeds (UK), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru), University of the Western Cape (SA), and Meru University of Science and Technology (Kenya), representatives from fellow Container Based Sanitation Alliance (CBSA) members Sanima (Peru), Sanergy (Kenya), as well as a government official of Cape Town who is responsible for CBS implementation there. SOIL’s research team is always excited  to be involved in  n external academic-partner research projects like Off Grid Cities that help to examine CBS as a path forward in the global  sanitation sector. These partnerships, and our ongoing internal operational research projects are critical to evaluating and providing cutting edge sectoral research to continue to pioneer CBS service innovations. 

The Sanima team on a collection run.

Through the Off Grid Cities Initiative, SOIL will be working with partners to collect data from current CBS users that will help us better understand how our customers’ quality of life changes after joining the service (and we suspect that it will show improvement!). Similar studies that have been conducted in other countries providing CBS services have shown increased sanitation quality of life among CBS users compared to non-users so we are hopeful that our data (that we plan to start collecting this summer) will show the same trend.

While in Lima, Nick and Maya also spent a day with fellow CBSA organization, Sanima. They visited Pamplona Alta, the informal settlement where Sanima operates, and followed along on a household collection run and spoke with a few current customers about their experiences with Sanima’s sanitation service. Nick and Maya met with members of the Sanima team and discussed the respective operations and challenges that each organization encounters that often slow the path to scale, as well as the key issues that lead to promising solutions. The group found considerable overlap between the challenges Sanima faces and those that SOIL is up against. It was extremely valuable for SOIL to have face-to-face time with Sanima for this kind of in-depth knowledge exchange, the result being that Nick and Maya are bringing back fresh ideas and innovations to share with our operations team in Cap-Haitien. 

Maya will continue to participate in the remote monthly check-ins with Off Grid Cities to follow the updates from the other country teams about ongoing challenges and findings that they encounter. She will also work with Winnie, our new Director of Research, Innovation and Advocacy, to collect quality of life data and set up interviews with a variety of sanitation professionals.


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