Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Solution name.

Ollas Sostenibles

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Community pots creating sustainable food systems by interconnecting access to food, water, and renewable energy in peripheral areas of Lima. 

What specific problem are you trying to solve?

According to data from the United Nations Organization for Agriculture and Food (FAO), before the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru had more than 8 million people suffering from food insecurity. By 2022 the number doubled and now Peru is currently the country with the highest food insecurity rates in South America with 16.6 million people suffering from it. The current global crisis is worsening the situation due to exaggerated inflation in food and fuel prices, and the shortage of fertilizers, which, added to the tangible effects of climate change show a discouraging panorama.

The problem that we are trying to solve is the food insecurity crisis in peripheral areas of Lima focusing on the situation of under-resourced Community Pots and recognizing that the lack of access to food, water, and energy puts them at risk.


At the end of 2020, 43% of households in Lima were in a state of severe food insecurity. To tackle this issue, thousands of Community Pots (Ollas Comunes) were born as a sign of solidarity and a survival instinct from vulnerable peripheral areas of the city (asentamientos humanos or barriadas).

According to the National Institute for Statistics and Informatic, until 2016, almost 4 million people, 30% of the population of Lima lived in peripheral areas. In 2021, the registry of the Network of Community Pots of the Metropolitan City of Lima geolocated 2,270 community pots with 243,200 beneficiaries (who depended on them to eat at least once a day) in districts such as San Juan de Lurigancho, Villa María del Triunfo, Chorrillos, Comas, Carabayllo and Pachacámac (all of them in peripheral areas). However, the lack of access to potable water, energy, and economic resources are some of the biggest challenges that community pots have to face. They limit their supply possibilities and put their subsistence at risk. As low-income communities, they have no alternative but to consume ultra-processed foods with a high content of sugar, salt, and saturated fats harmful to health. The high cost of gas also causes them the urge to appeal to cheap but dangerous materials to cook such as firewood. More than 40% of community pots in Lima cook with firewood. This means that the people who are standing next to these stoves (mostly women and mothers of the community) are prone to adverse effects such as soot poisoning, and respiratory and visual diseases. 

Elevator pitch

What is your solution?

Ollas Sostenibles works with community pots aiming to create sustainable food systems in peripheral areas of Lima. Our circular system implements three projects in three areas, for access to food: community gardens, for renewable energy: biodigesters, and for clean water: a greywater treatment. 

  1. Food: Community gardens

In the face of climate emergencies and supply chain disruptions, we promote communities with resilient systems that use urban agriculture to guarantee access to food at all times. With the Halconcitos Community Pot in Pamplona, San Juan de Lurigancho (one of the two communities we are working with), we’ve implemented the community gardens in the forms of pircas or Andenes, an ancestral form of Andean agriculture that helps take advantage of the limited space available to build the gardens on top of the hills. 


  1. Water: Greywater treatments

Due to our limited resources, we are currently working with a basic gravity filtration method. The water falls through a filter of stones, rocks, gravel, and activated carbon to achieve the minimum quality to be used for irrigation. Our first greywater treatment is being implemented in Chorrillos using the water from the Surco River (in the picture).


  1. Energy: Biodigesters

The biodigesters, use the food waste from the community pots to create biofuel by going through a chemical process of decomposition isolated from the air. This replaces the use of firewood and preserves the health of the women in charge of cooking. The process also leaves a residue called biol that can be used as a fertilizer for the garden or be sold by the communities for additional income. 


With our system, we present food self-sufficiency not only as a solution for the food emergency but also as an opportunity for economic growth for vulnerable semi-urban sectors and as an option for a replicable working model for rapidly growing cities.

Who does your solution serve? In what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The Ollas Sostenibles system serves community pots in peripheral areas of Lima. 

We are currently working with two community pots both in Lima, Peru. The Halconcitos CP that benefits 135 neighbors with at least one meal per day in San Juan de Lurigancho and the Fishermen Community: ‘Asociación de Pescadores Artesanales Peñeros de La Chira, Conchán y La Herradura’ CP that benefits 86  families (with a minimum of three members) in Chorrillos also with at least one meal per day. 

Recently and according to research conducted by TECHO Peru, four out of ten barriadas in the San Juan de Lurigancho district (SJL) (44.2%) do not have a formal electricity connection. Regarding access to water service, 126 settlements (91.31%) do not have formal access to the public water network and are supplied by drilling, community pylon, or tanker trucks. It’s worth noting that SJL is one of the biggest and most populated peripheral areas of the city. 

Our work in SLJ:


In the case of the Chorillos district, the members of the community pot also protect marine biodiversity as artisanal fishermen. They are located next to the Surco River (prime source of our ongoing greywater treatment) and within a 5 minutes walk from the ocean and Punta La Chira. 

Part of our community in Chorrillos:


Looking at the bigger picture, Lima is the largest city in Peru and its capital. Over 30% of the entire population of the country lives in Lima.  Because of this, it is a rapidly growing city that constantly faces crushing demand for land and affordable housing. Thanks to environmental disasters and conflicts, in the 1940s, a very powerful migration movement began in Peru. Immigrants from rural areas and indigenous communities got to Lima and took up residence in peripheral areas (also known in Peru as Barriadas) located outside of the city limits. Located near rivers and in steep hilly terrain, the land was prone to flooding and severe damage from seismic activity. 

Nowadays, the social inequalities present more than 60 years ago are still relevant and causing much suffering for those living in these historically marginalized communities. Access to basic services such as water is scarce and difficult to obtain. Until the installation of a formal water supply, it is distributed by tanks once or twice a week and is anxiously expected. Moreover, Lima's urban spaces are fragmented and segregated. The wealthy population, living within gated communities, feels threatened by the massive extension of self-constructed areas.

There’s an alarming need for food, clean running water, and energy in the Peruvian barriadas, which is why our system focuses on the three areas that are fundamental for the survival of the communities. Having access to said areas will contribute tremendously to the fight against hunger and the building of sustainable food systems. 

Pin en acentamiento humano

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are an interdisciplinary team of highly motivated, creative, and determined young students that come from almost all academic sectors and diverse backgrounds. The Ollas Sostenibles circular system for food security was designed and developed by youth from peripheral areas for our and similar communities. We believe in the power of grassroots organizations and collective efforts because, in times of need, our immigrant families have benefited from it. We are passionate about building tangible solutions for the climate crisis to contribute to the fight for environmental and social justice because we are very aware that to stop the suffering of our communities, we need immediate action to be taken. 

In terms of organization, we have an internal model that works with a board of five directors, three specialized teams for each phase of the system, and a general community of young volunteers available to participate in in-person activities when needed. The Community pots we work with are also a big part of our overall team. With them, we work with a focus on intergenerational connections to strengthen the holistic approach of the circular system. We divide our work based on our abilities and interests, for example, those who specialized in the humanities work studying the social impact of our project and developing new methods to implement community-based and collaborative processes. Those with expertise in technology and engineering work supervising viability and the technical aspects for the implementation of the three projects. 

OS is part of the Metropolitan Network of Youth Organizations since 2022, the Renewable Energies Network of Peru, and the Youth Environmental Commission of the Ministry of Environment. Being part of said spaces has helped us be in touch with other youth organizations working for sustainability at the local and national levels. We have also collaborated with youth-led organizations in Lima such as Ubuntu Jóvenes Voluntarios, Oli Foundation, and Entre Arquitectos (Universidad Ricardo Palma) from whom we have received help with the design of 3D models of our projects. 



What steps have you taken to understand the needs of the population you want to serve?

Our founding team did extensive research in order to identify the problems, consequences, and possible solutions presented in past answers. However, the most valuable knowledge came from interacting with the communities on the ground. Our main step is to carry out virtual and on-field observations to record relevant data on prospective partners (Community Pots - CP).

We are very aware that, in terms of territory, all CPs are located in different areas, on different hills, with different needs and resources available. When visiting we contact the leaders of the community and the leaders of the CP for an overall review of the food situation of the community.  Apart from that, with the use of a drone, we visualize the structure of the community and the space available to build our sustainable food system. This way, we gather the main concerns of the community and analyze how our system can be implemented with them based on their needs.


Which aspects of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Taking action to combat climate change and its impacts (Sustainability)

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community

In what city, town, or region is your solution team located?

Lima, Peru

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Sofia Luna Quispe

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

To tackle food insecurity in peripheral areas we focus on three main pillars: Food, Water, and Energy. Basic services that as humans we need to survive, but that are far from being 100% accessible for the communities that need them the most. The three pillars come with three projects that are interconnected and make the Ollas Sostenibles sustainable food system. Together they build a strategic system easy to understand and implement where nothing goes to waste and renewable resources are the spine. We believe that this combination of projects is a powerful option for building resilient communities. We also hope that communities that don't have access to tech-related education or have limited resources can use our system as a way of introducing themselves to sustainable climate action.

What are your impact goals for the next year, and how will you achieve them?

We aim to grow our team to have the capacity to work with more community pots in Lima and in other cities within Peru not only directly implementing our system but also training community leaders and youth in sustainability-related topics. 

We also aim to expand our impact in community pots in which the main sources of water are directly nearby rivers. For this, we want to learn about and implement more advanced water filtration techniques in areas such as the Chillón River, the Rimac River, and of course, the Surco River, where we've been working since 2022. This is because, in Lima, el Niño affects mainly peripheral communities on the slopes and riverbeds, leaving unimaginable damage as in the last disaster that occurred in 2017.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

As it was mentioned before, our system has three projects, and two out of those phases directly include technology. 

First, the greywater treatments: Due to our limited resources, we are currently working with a basic gravity filtration method. The water falls through a filter of stones, rocks, gravel, and activated carbon to achieve the minimum quality to be used for irrigation. Our first greywater treatment is being implemented in Chorrillos using the water from the Surco River.

And second, the biodigesters: Use the food waste from the community pots to create biofuel by going through a chemical process of decomposition isolated from air. This replaces the use of firewood and preserves the health of the women in charge of cooking. 

In addition, our community gardens are built and managed in form of Andenes or Pircas, an ancestral agricultural method from the Andes of Peru. 

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Biotechnology / Bioengineering
  • Materials Science

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Peru

How many people does your solution currently serve, and how many do you plan to serve in the next year? If you haven’t yet launched your solution, tell us how many people you plan to serve in the next year.

We are currently working with two community pots both in Lima, Peru. 

- The Halconcitos CP: Benefits 135 neighbors with at least one meal per day in San Juan de Lurigancho, one of their main sources of food is the pirca community garden. 

- Fishermen Community: ‘Asociación de Pescadores Artesanales Peñeros de La Chira, Conchán y La Herradura’ CP: Benefits 86 families (with a minimum of three members, 258 in total) in Chorrillos also with at least one meal per day. 

We hope to start working in at least two more communities in North Lima (Chillón River) and Lima Center (Rimac River) with similar numbers as the fishermen community (medium capacity CP). This means an added impact of 516 more people benefiting from at least one meal a day (Out of three meals).

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year?

Our main barrier has always been funding. We are incredibly grateful to have gotten a grant from the Global Fund For Children in 2022 that made our work in Pamplona and Chorrillos possible. However, for youth organizations in the global south and frontlines communities, access to funding is limited in terms of the number of opportunities and the legal requirements to participate. 

Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?


How long have you been working on your solution?

Since 2021

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

We partner with the student organization Entre Arquitectos, from the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima to build 3D models of our projects in the testing phase. 

We partner with Ubuntu Jóvenes Voluntarios to recruit young people in Lima interested in taking action for food security. 

Business Model

What is your path to financial sustainability?

The main financial sources of the project are grants and funding opportunities. However, the communities in most cases are willing to organize and lead fundraising activities to cover minor the cost of implementation of phases one and two of the system. The real economic benefit is directed to the community pots and the income they can make by selling excess food from the community gardens and the sell of biol as a fertilizer. 

Solution Team

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