Research Internship (in-person placement) Renewable Energy Internship (in-person) Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
Work on designing and implementing sustainable renewable energy initiatives to improve the lives of people in Peruvian vulnerable communities.
NGO Management Intern (in-person) Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
Learn how to run a sustainable development NGO operating in the northern town of Lobitos, whilst improving the local environment and quality of life of residents.
Water & Sanitation Internship (in-person) Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
EcoSwell needs volunteers to develop sanitation initiatives such as dry toilets and wastewater treatment projects in northern Peru.
Research Internship (in-person placement) Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
Come to northern Peru to carry out your undergraduate/postgraduate research or support us in our ongoing research projects!
Reforestation Internship (in-person) Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
98% of the equatorial dry forest has been degraded, making it one of most endangered forests in the world. Come to northern Peru to conserve this endangered ecosystem.
Medical Elective Lobitos, Peru EcoSwell
We need medical students and qualified doctors to help us in Lobitos, Peru with giving medical support and working with public health education initiatives.

10 Project reviews of EcoSwell

Project Details

Sustainable development NGO driving the development of poor Peruvian coastal communities through a path of sustainability, improving the lives of the local population.

What we do

EcoSwell is a sustainable development non-profit (NGO) driving the development of poor Peruvian coastal communities through a path of sustainability, improving the quality of life of their inhabitants.

As an NGO we develop educational, infrastructure, environmental, social and economic productivity programs working hand in hand with local communities and with international volunteers/interns. We take a “shared value” approach, working with the private, public, academic sectors and other NGO’s, to come up with relevant and lasting sustainable solutions. 

Our approach towards sustainability consists of three pillars:

  • Nature conservation
  • Social justice
  • Economic well-being for all

Where we operate

We at EcoSwell currently operate in Lobitos, a Peruvian coastal northern town and surfing hotspot, which has seen an increase in uncontrolled tourism over the last 15 years. As a result of the town’s lack of infrastructure, lack of communication between stakeholders and lack of integrated development programs, this tourism is giving rise to various environmental, social and economic risks to the town’s long-term sustainability and wellbeing. Further to this Lobitos is a small town of approx 1,650 people where approximately 27% of the population live in poverty and 14% live in extreme poverty, that means less than 90 cents a day for all their needs.

We are working to change this through a variety of programs from distinct disciplines to come up with innovative solutions.

Our vision and long term objective

The issues that we at EcoSwell see in Lobitos are not exclusive to the town, or to the north of Peru. They are global issues which are impacting various communities around the world. As such, by 2021, our vision is to make Lobitos a success story of coastal sustainability, where a respectful tourism industry can co-exist with the local community and the industries found within Lobitos. The long term objective of the organisation is to develop a sustainability framework which could be applied in other Peruvian coastal communities, based on our experience gained in Lobitos, and to communities around the world. 

Who we are

We believe that diversity breeds change, a positive one at that. As such EcoSwell is made up by a network of young professionals from a wide range of different professional disciplines, from environmentalists, to social scientists, engineers, lawyers, economists, athletes, language specialists and others. We believe that only through the wide perspectives all these different professions bring to the table, is the concept of sustainability attainable in the real world. We share and learn from each other and apply all of our expertise into coming up with relevant, realistic and applicable solutions to help us drive sustainability forwards and improve the lives of our beneficiaries.

We have a team based in Lobitos permanently and a team based in the UK who provide technical and financial resources to our team on the ground. Our contributors and members are based all over the world.

EcoSwell's story

It all started with friendships and a surf trip. Four lifelong friends (our co-founders) travelled along the Peruvian coast in search of waves. One of the locations they went to, was the off the beaten track town of Lobitos. Whilst there they caught some of the best waves of their lives, met some of the kindest people imaginable and were exposed to breath-taking natural beauty and wildlife. Jacques Cousteau once said: "people conserve what they love" and the group of friends had fallen for Lobitos. Seeing the environmental and social constraints the town was enduring though, contrasting with the natural beauty of the locality made them realised that if nothing was done, Lobitos' essence would not endure for long. EcoSwell is the manifestation of this call to action. Since then, the EcoSwell family has grown from 4 members to nearly 20 from various nationalities, with operations expanding beyond Lobitos, to other surrounding towns. And to think that this is the beginning of our story... there is so much more to come.

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Michael Alderson
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

To date EcoSwell has positively impacted approximately 400 lives directly in the community of Lobitos, and we estimate that we have benefited double that indirectly, through our work. This has been the result of the various different programs/initiatives we have developed to date and which we continue to work on. The themes covered by these initiatives/programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Reforestation
  • Climate Change adaptation
  • Economic productivity for the local fishing community
  • Renewable energy (solar and looking to expand to wind)
  • Socioeconomic assessments
  • Education
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Solid waste management
  • Sustainable sanitation

A couple of examples of these initiatives have been provided below:

Green Lobitos

EcoSwell secured the commitment of 32 leaders, mainly women, which have been empowered to raise environmental awareness in their neighbourhoods by reforesting public space, utilizing in-house waste and water reuse methods. Together, they have planted and are consistently taking care of more than 70 seedlings, some of which have already grown into full-sized trees (up to three meters tall). During 2017, the number of families involved will scale up to 45, and the adopted trees planted by EcoSwell will surpass the 100 mark. 

The program has resulted in fantastic environmental and social benefits for the town. The community is now greener and more inviting for socialising outdoors for the locals (as opposed to staying in doors) as the trees are able to provide shade from the scorching sun. This is building a greater sense of social cohesion at a community and at a family level, which is in turn making more Lobiteans care about their environment and the planting of more trees. Through the planting of these trees EcoSwell is also answering to one of the calls to action of Paris' Global Climate Change agreement, which called for an increase in low carbon technologies and more reforestation to help fight and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Renewable energy and wastewater treatment for the Lobitos Fishermen

In early in 2016 EcoSwell installed a state-of-the-art photovoltaic energy system at the Community Hall of the Lobitos Artisanal Fishermen’s Guild and a 7,000 litre biodigester to treat the sewage of the building. The Community Hall has now been turned turned into a centre where the inhabitants can access free, clean and renewable energy, especially during the occasional blackouts from the grid in Lobitos. It has also reduced the Fishermen Association’s electric bill, greatly reducing their operating costs and generating important savings for the organisation. At the same time, the biodigester is providing a primary treatment to the building’s wastewater and preventing it from continuously adding to the underground and above-ground pollution of the town's broken sewage system. 

Currently, there is no end-of-pipe treatment of wastewater in Lobitos and it just tends to accumulate in certain sewage spill points or “ponds”, creating a health hazard and a source of environmental contamination. The Biodigester is reducing this impact by allowing the reuse of the treated wastewater for below-ground drip irrigation of nearby green areas of the Community Hall, as well as separating the sediment from the wastewater for reuse as fertilizer. Both sets of infrastructure were funded as part of a successful crowdfunding campaign EcoSwell ran. As part of the installation of the program, local members volunteered in its installation and local specialists were paid to install it, generating incomes for the local work force.

Pursued Sustainable Development Goals

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