For over twelve years, Public Health International has operated public health programs in 66 rural villages on the Santa Elena Peninsula of Ecuador. When the first volunteer from PHI arrived in 1991, only the largest cities had limited garbage collection programs with final disposal at poorly operated unsanitary dumping facilities. Sanitary landfills were unheard of in Ecuador.

Garbage was everywhere and associated diseases were running rampant throughout the region.

Typical village method of garbage disposal prior to program development.

In 1997, PHI trained villagers to locate, develop and operate two sanitary landfills. One landfill, “Nariz del Diablo,” is near the village of Ayengue; the second, “Sitio Nuevo,” is near the village of San Antonio.

These sites are believed to be the only true sanitary landfills operating in South America. They are also the only sanitary landfills in the western hemisphere operated by small rural village cooperatives.

The cooperatives provide weekly garbage collection to over twenty rural villages, with less frequent collection extended to the more isolated project villages. In association with the landfills, villagers trained by PHI volunteers developed and continue to operate two financially stable recycling programs.

The first recycling center developed by PHI volunteers in Ecuodor.

A side benefit to the establishment of these sanitary landfills is the noticeable increase in village pride, which can only be obtained through self-improvement.

Disposal and daily cover at the “Nariz del Diablo” sanitary landfill, Ayengue, Ecuador.