Making An Impact All-Together Foundation
What is the name of your solution?
Provide a one-line summary of your solution.
Converting food-waste, human or animal faeces into cooking gas & organic liquid fertilizer.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
Jamaica, with its status as a small island developing nation, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and poor environmental practices. The most recent available data show that Jamaica produces approximately 900,000 tonnes of waste per year, which is almost one ton of waste per person. Approximately 68%/612,000 tonnes of the waste produced comprises of biodegradable materials. Overall, one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year - approximately 1.3 billion tonnes - is also wasted. Which means that all of the natural inputs for growing, processing, packaging, transporting and marketing the food are equally as lost. That by extension has one-third of the worlds food producing space wasted. With Jamaica being an island, of which roughly 50% of its food, $1 billion are imported. The food waste and biodegradable waste along with all other non-biodegradable and hazardous waste is dumped on one of Jamaica's eight disposal sites- commonly referred to as dumpsites. None of dumpsites are compliant with international standards for sanitary landfills, and all of which are rapidly running out of space. All that dumped food and biodegradable waste is essential for the output of carbon dioxide (CO2) & methane (CH4) in Jamaica.
Several communities across Jamaica are living on dump sites or within proximity, all of which have insufficient housing, lack access to clean cooking resources, nutritious food and sanitary toilets. With limited choice, community residents are forced to also defecate close to their living spaces and cook on polluting open fires or simple stoves fueled by biomass (wood, charcoal, animal dung, and crop waste) or kerosene. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annually close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices. Biomass resources are rapidly dwindling, and further depletion of forests is causing ecological degradation and emission of greenhouse gasses (CO2). Soil fertility is crucial for sustainable food production, yet the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that 33% of land is moderately to highly degraded due to the erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution of soils. In Jamaica, major threats are soil erosion due to forest degradation, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion and loss of soil biodiversity.
What is your solution?
The foundations' goal is to achieve a carbon neutral and environmentally sustainable Jamaica by 2050.
We focus on the prevention of further greenhouse emissions while converting food waste into clean renewable energy right on the dumpsites. We will introduce a repurposing program that uses food waste and human faeces and converts it into free clean cooking gas and rich liquid fertilizer to help save the environment and create sustainable economic livelihood within the Garbage Dump Communities. We want to create direct impact by providing access to our Carbon Eater, (biodigesters and Earth toilets) for community members living directly on the dump. Families express great satisfaction about privacy and sanitation when toilets are attached to the biodigesters. Women and youths will enjoy the possibility of growing healthy nutrient rich food rather than eating discarded food out the garbage. The bioslurry/liquid fertilizer produced by the biodigester reduces the use of water- to- water plants and the use of chemical fertilizer. In addition, it enhances agricultural productivity and vegetable growth especially in raised bed gardens. Better hygienic conditions are also achieved through improved handling of personal waste and food waste management on the dumps.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
These Garbage dumpsite communities are mostly inhabited by vulnerable and marginalized populations, including those who face extreme poverty, severe illness and/or disability and lack of educational opportunities. Therefore, MAIA will target the majority of families that live in and around the dumpsites who make their living as “recyclers”, “pickers” or “small pig farmers” combing through the garbage barefoot by hand to find items that could be sold, kept or eaten. Therefore, our focus is on the long-terms needs of the residents in these communities, the majority of whom are single-parent female led households with multiple children.
Despite local and national awareness of the disadvantages faced by residents living in dumpsite communities, there has been limited government and private sector policies and initiatives to promote and improve the public perception of the community residents. Faced with environmental, health, social and economic disparities, the communities are somewhat on the periphery of the general society. Such issues and challenges create compounding effects such as; persistent poverty, increasing crime and lack of clean green spaces and severe health problems. Furthermore, at the local government level community residents lack proper infrastructures (access to safe housing, hygiene & sanitation) and social programs. Exacerbating these challenges for residents in the dumpsite communities, are their frequent experience with negative stereotyping from some members of the public, this has without a doubt led to limited engagements and interactions with the wider cross-sections of society.
To optimise sustainable benefits to Jamaica's ecosystem, while raising awareness of the communities and need to maintain a clean, safe and livable environment. MAIA's solution to the communities needs will address the needs of the communities in the following ways:
1. reducing the amount of garbage and toxic waste material that constantly fill-up the dumpsites
2. provide community residents with clean and safe ways of cooking
3. enable tangible and sustainable income generating opportunities for hundreds of youths and women already vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19
4. food security though the construction of community Eco-gardens - eat what you grow-, this will be a momentum for synergies to sustainably link the expected expansion of production for locally grown nutritious food and added value products to feed not only the community, but children in nearby schools, for example; the liquid fertilizer will be used to feed raised bed gardens of banana, plantain and fruit tree orchards. Which in turn will create a new standard for school nutrition.
MAIA has recognized the severity of Jamaica's waste management issues, the Jamaican government, in its Vision 2030 National Development Plan, has identified effective poverty reduction and waste management as key areas of focus for the country. The project will seek to enhance the universal push to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) & methane (CH4) emissions, mitigate the effects of climate change on communities, the ecosystems and the environment and create sustainable land use practices and alternative livelihoods.
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
MAIA Foundation is consciously aware of the lived experience of the dumpsite communities and through much on-the-ground interactions and engagement we have built trust and effective communication with members at all levels. Members of MAIA technical team have friends and even extended families living closely to dumpsite communities and are therefore very knowledge of the socio-economic realties that the residents endure on a daily basis. Since we work directly with multiple dumpsite communities, there are several community units that have autonomy, representation and visibility which are integral to how we operate.
Guided by the foundation best practices, our relationship with the dumpsite communities is built on trust, mutual respect, inclusivity and genuine need to have life-changing impact on environmental and non-environmental issues inside the communities. It is safe to say, MAIA does not undertake projects before actively engaging in face-to-face discussions with community members. The foundation has regular on-site visits on a weekly basis. This is very deliberate, as residents access to transportation is at times limited and can be costly. Any project task done by individuals in the community that warrants time away from their work, the foundation ensures they are compensated.
Actually, it is the community partners that first approach us with their issues and challenges. From this point the board members conduct an assessment and decide on how to continue the dialogue and evaluate the situation. In an atmosphere of informality (and formal when necessary), we ensure projects are presented and communicated in a coherent way and each project has scheduled trainings and interactive workshops with support from local agencies. Furthermore, residents fully participate in Hands On Training (H.O.T) workshops which allows them access to tools and appropriate resources to work independently.
Our team solicits and take into account input received from community residents and prioritize significantly their needs, while aiming to identify resources available to address those community needs. Alongside these, are special fun and creative educational activities for children. As such, residents are involved at every step of the project and MAIA foundation is keen to have their opinions, suggestions and advice in every aspect, particularly since their lived social and economic realities are shared and tied into the community. From the inception, residents are encouraged to identify and choose the sites, form a ward committee and task team.
Emboldened by mutual trust and respect, they make tangible recommendations for food waste, provide valuable input to any project designs and continues to liaison with the foundation even on our 'off days.' The best practices mentioned are useful, as these are applied to design of data collection on the household food consumption and cooking habits of the residents.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Rapidly decarbonize heating and cooking systems in existing homes while improving efficiency.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Kingston, Jamaica
Our solution's stage of development:Growth
How many people does your solution currently serve?
Why are you applying to Solve?
As a fairly new organization with a small and effective team, MAIA has certainly achieved success, particularly as it relates to creating sustainable and on-going partnerships at different levels with residents living in the dumpsite communities. In doing so, we created a process model to transform dumpsite communities into receptive and effective partners for collaborative projects. This model is aimed at building on existing infrastructure and more often than not, lack of - as demonstrated in this case.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Marvin Campbell, Founder and CEO
What makes your solution innovative?
Our Carbon Eater "biodigesters and earth toilets" provide multiple benefits such as the reduction of food waste and carbon dioxide (CO2) & methane (CH4), the production of free natural clean cooking gas as well as liquid nutrient rich fertilizer to households and society at large. Our biodigesters and biotoilets can decrease the absence of recycling which is rarely applied from waste management companies. Waste reduction and management also has social justice aspects as both in Jamaica and internationally, dump sites are poorly managed and disproportionately located in or near communities with low socioeconomic status. This means that those citizens that are already marginalized and disenfranchised, bear the greater burden of adverse environmental impacts associated with improper waste management and the ever increasing burden on Jamaica’s existing dumpsites. Recognizing the severity of Jamaica’s waste management issues, the Jamaican government, in its Vision 2030 National Development Plan, has identified effective waste management as key area of focus for the country. The project will seek to enhance the universal push to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) & methane (CH4) emissions, mitigate the effects of climate change on communities, the ecosystems and the environment and create sustainable land use practices and alternative livelihoods.
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
MAIA Foundation is very intentional about where we want to have the most impact in a sustainable and progressive manner. In reality, our community partners are the guiding force as to the type of impact we want to make and can achieve. As a result the impact goals are clearly communicated and aligned with the overall work culture and sustainability ethos of the foundation.
For the next year, MAIA impact goals will be focused on the dumpsite communities as a sustainable operational model with autonomy as a registered social enterprise. These are necessary steps to eliminate barriers to the communities development and by so doing, establish an atmosphere of empowerment, motivation and trust for residents. It is a holistic approach to the ecosystem of the communities in which we already work.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
To ensure that the community needs are met. MAIA Foundation works closely alongside community members and relevant stakeholders. Since in the long-term it is the community that will have ownership of the completed projects.
The foundation takes great care to ensure all our engagements, actions, interactions, projects that involves community and stakeholders are transparent. Additionally, during the phase of each project outcomes and results must be verifiable. For example; the percentage of the community members living on dumpsites that are impacted by our project and the tonnes of waste reduction (as we liaison with the National Solid Waste Management of Jamaica) are all specific to MAIA, since, these indicate progress towards the foundation long-term solutions
MAIA Foundation developed an Economic Growth Indicator & Partnership Progress Framework that tracks the level of business involvement in the community, community participation, partnerships between the community and other relevant stakeholders from private sector, local government and other community groups that provides social benefits for resident. While, promoting sustainable economic growth through livelihood programs, sustained reduction of food insecurity and improving community members quality of life.
Indicator Policy Community Participation Investments
What is your theory of change?
The garbage dumps are mostly inhabited by vulnerable populations, including those who face extreme poverty, severe illness and/or disability, and lack of educational opportunities. The majority of families that live in waste make their living as “recyclers”, “pickers” or “small pig farmers” combing through the garbage barefoot by hand to find items that could be sold, kept or eaten. Those who live here have to be incredibly resilient because this way of life does not pay well or is very healthy: nearly all garbage dump community members live on less than JMD 200.00 a day, putting them below the United Nation’s line for extreme poverty and Jamaica’s minimum wage mandated by the Government of Jamaica. Garbage dumps are the only place in these areas where people can live for free and find items that they can keep for their families or sell for profit, which incentivizes vulnerable populations to stay there. Furthermore with limited access for youths and women to gain training and employment due to the community's rurality and their low socio-economic status; women and youths are in dire need of sustainable alternative livelihood opportunities. Many living on dump sites lack access to clean cooking, nutritious food and sanitary toilets. People defecate in the proximity to their living spaces and cook on polluting open fires or simple stoves fueled by biomass (wood, plastic, charcoal, animal dung, and crop waste), which are all very dangerous and health hazards. Living in garbage dump communities also has extreme adverse effects on both physical and mental health, combined with extremely high barriers to access healthcare, education, nutritious food, sanitary bathroom facilities and shelter, as well as employment opportunities outside the garbage dump. A Jamaican garbage dump is an incredibly dangerous place to live and work, with dangers that are not considered on average in a “normal” daily live. While the minority of deaths in garbage dumps are of somewhat natural cause, dangers and deaths also include:
- Methane gas buildup causing spontaneous combustion
- Illness from contaminated food and water, toxic air, and lack of sanitation
- Disease and disability caused by medical waste dumping
- Serious and/or gangrenous injury from glass or shrapnel
- Trauma and mental illness related to severity of the conditions
- Sinking and being swallowed into garbage landslides and suffocating
MAIA's project will overcome the above challenges by us installing vital mutually complementary components, which will have impact on the wellbeing of its forgotten and underserved communities on the dump and the country;
1. reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) & Methane (CH4) emissions within Jamaica’s environment
2. reduce waste on Jamaica's dumps
3. provide free cooking gas and free bio-fertilizer
4. provide privacy and sanitation through the installations of toilets on dumps
5. improved hygienic conditions are also achieved through improved handling of personal waste
6. promote clean nutritious eating, healthy food rather than eating waste
7. growing organic food through climate smart agriculture method
8. becoming self-sustainable 9. generating economic value for families living on the dump
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Our biodigester system utilizes organic waste, any methane producing product such as food waste, human excrete or animal faeces, to produce biogas and liquid fertilizer. The airtight, high-density polyethylene container filled with water and MAIA's proprietary organic nutrient formula which allows for fermentation by microorganisms (inoculation). With the absence of oxygen "anaerobic" the bacteria responsible for decomposition are methanogenic, methanogenic produce methane, also known as biogas. The processed organic waste is an pathogen-free liquid fertilizer, filled macro and micro-nutrition, rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Our biodigester requires no digging, no building of structure, no construction housing, etc. Simple assembly can be done by everyone and everywhere. The Carbon Eater comes fully equipped with all the parts that allow for immediate feeding and cooking application right after inoculation.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new application of an existing technology
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
What type of organization is your solution team?
How many people work on your solution team?
How long have you been working on your solution?
What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?
From a socio-cultural perspective, Jamaica has always been a diverse and inclusive society, fast forward to current realities the dynamics of having equity across all sectors is more widespread and understood by most.
Since the founding of MAIA, the foundation has been deliberate and conscious of the global disparities that affects all gender. Diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) are central and certainly important to the foundation's work culture, mission, vision and ethos. Although the foundation is male-led, there are more female members heading projects and generally the teams is reflective of the importance of centering women in discussions and decision making process that affects not just their employment status, but ability to transform their lives. It is acknowledged that (DEI) practices, strategies and policies take time, but MAIA ensures these are aligned with team members personal and professional values.
MAIA Foundation has created a safe space where representation matters and everyone have equal access to voice their opinions, concerns and their interests are push forward. One example of this is our inclusions of persons living with disabilities, as we focus on removing physical barriers and dismissing assumptions that persons with disabilities are not capable of working and living a normal life. With the Disabilities Act in Jamaica now in full effect, MAIA has consulted with representatives of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities to incorporate appropriate learning modalities to access resources that are beneficial to improving their quality of life. MAIA recognizes that it is very important and we do hope to have as part of our permanent team a members of the disabled community.
The foundation is already taking the necessary to step to create a inclusion advocate and there will be gradual training of our staff to learn sign-languages in order to communicate with the hearing impaired as there are numerous children living with such a challenge in the communities that MAIA partners with. Bringing more awareness and sensitizing our team and community, MAIA believes that failure to incorporate gender mainstreaming as a norm will only have negative repercussions. The team has taken several initiatives beyond the work place to understand cultural and sub-cultural norms at the grass root level. MAIA, continues to liaison, identify better products and services that fits and suits the needs of every member of the team.
What is your business model?
MAIA Foundation is a non partisan environmental charity organization located in Jamaica, but aims to make several impacts, promoting awareness and enhancing the lives of the most vulnerable affected by the negative effects of climate change throughout the Caribbean. Since, the foundation is dependent on grants, donors and self-funded all profits are re-invested in the community in order that they become self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
The foundation is very actively engaged in the dumpsite communities as this is critical to get them to a level of self-reliance. Securing and enhancing the economic livelihood of residents to independently generate income and assisting in food security which by extension improves their nutrition, health and reduce stress are primary needs of the community. Other beneficiaries includes; schools- students have access to nutrient dense meals from our community gardens and local government agencies that benefits from MAIAI's expertise in areas of waste reduction, carbon neutrality, climate and change mitigation strategies.
MAIA is responsive to the needs of the communities we intend to serve and bear in mind that appropriate expectations for the communities are not undermined by unrealistic expectations.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Organizations (B2B)
What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?
As an NGO, focused on environmental issues and providing solutions, securing financially sustainability is not without challenges. MAIA relies heavily on donations and grants from local and global organizations (public / private) and government.
One of the strategies adopted so far in attracting funds towards the foundations' viability for long-term projects includes, but are not limited to:
1. application for grants at the local and international level, it is important that any donations received are in line with MAIA's mission
2. providing products and services-based business / consultancy. MAIA has worked with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries-Jamaica- to advise on new agricultural innovations and a guide to developing concepts for growing organic seedlings and establishing informal business for communities at the grass root
3. self-funded, despite the challenges of accessing resources, MAIA supported its own initiatives at the beginning and as a matter of principle and authenticity does not use external funding in the start-up phase of a project
In the long-term, MAIA's exit strategy for revenue streams though multi-dimensional remains a work in progress as we identify and leverage best practices for steady financial sustainability even beyond MAIA Foundation operation. This involves the building of Jamaica’s First Climate Smart Academy, which is still a work in progress. The aim is to admit students, organizations and interested individuals on a paid basis. There is also an energy efficient greenhouse operation that runs 100% of solar power and utilizes aeroponics to grow vegetables, fruit trees and vegetable seedlings that will be sold to large hotels and supermarkets.
All these are key to MAIA foundations' social- financial transformation and longevity and we strive to continue to build on relevant and strategic alliances.