Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Use of Vermicomposting to Reduce Solid Waste Accumulations, Alleviate Flooding and Further Sustainable Development in Slum Settlements in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

EPA Grant Number: SU835075
Title: Use of Vermicomposting to Reduce Solid Waste Accumulations, Alleviate Flooding and Further Sustainable Development in Slum Settlements in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Investigators: Sletto, Bjorn
Current Investigators: Sletto, Bjorn , Brigmon, Nathan , Clifton, Matt , Davila, Tánia , Die, Rachael , Díaz, Omar , Genova, Jared , Lara, Rosario Rizzo , Rojas, Danielle , Rosenbarger, Beth , Sertzen, Pamela
Institution: University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Municipal solid waste management in informal settlements (slums) is often inadequate, resulting in accumulations of household waste in waterways. This causes water contamination, public health problems, and flooding problems by blocking the flow of storm water. A typical case is Los Platanitos, Dominican Republic, where inadequate municipal solid waste management forces residents to deposit waste in open channels. As a result, homes are often flooded by extremely polluted water. The proposed project will implement, evaluate, and disseminate the results of a community-based vermicomposting (composting using worms) enterprise in Los Platanitos. The objective is to lessen the amount of organic waste deposited in channels, reduce water contamination, improve public health, and provide a source of income for women, who will direct the household-based project. The project is innovative in its integration of locally appropriate technologies, gender-based development strategies, and principles of economic sustainability. The project builds on two previous class projects and will be developed in partnership with Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and representative community groups.


The participatory process follows these steps: (1) design and construction of vermicomposting bins using recycled materials; (2) site selection and preparation of bins; (3) pilot testing of the composting process; (4) evaluation of the process and products; and (5) redesign as needed. In a parallel process, environmental education will be implemented and distribution contracts established, all with community organization and NGO partners. The project relates to the three aspects of sustainability as follows: (1) People (improved community health and organizational capacity, and women’s empowerment); (2) Prosperity (development of a sustainable source of income based on conversion of waste to value); and (3) The Planet (the project will be a model for community-based solid waste management for at-risk slum settlements).

Expected Results:

The expected results include (1) the construction and siting of 25 vermiculture/composting bins; (2) proper processing and development of compost products during the pilot phase; (3) reduction in the volume of organic waste and organic pollution in waterways; (4) capacity development among women project participants; and (5) establishment of contracts for distribution of composting products. This will be measured through visual inspections, GIS mapping and field surveys, water testing, and focus groups. The project evaluation will replicate methods and draw on baseline data from previous class projects to better assess project outcomes.

Supplemental Keywords:

Water Treatment, Bioremediation, Urban Water Planning, Stormwater Management, Composting, Green Landscaping, Environmental Justice, Gender and Development

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report