This year Cap-Haitien was chosen to host Haiti’s National Carnival and we’re all still recovering from a beautiful week of dancing and music. The city saw an influx of over one million people: hotels were fully booked months ago, new ones were being built overnight, friends were pulling out extra bedding and sleep mats, and tents were popping up all over the city. But even in the midst of Haiti’s biggest party, SOIL was focusing on sanitation!
Through collaboration with the city and the Haitian government ministry for sanitation (Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement or DINEPA), SOIL built 10 mobile ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets along the main boulevard of Shada II, the community in which SOIL has a longstanding friendship and sanitation history. The toilet design used was developed through SOIL's years of experience providing public sanitaiton services in Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince. These toilets combined with the over 500 additional toilets placed around the city by other local businesses and carnival officials helped provide critical sanitation services throughout the festivities.
Thankfully SOIL toilets did not fail to deliver their usual optimum quality of service and use! The toilets were orderly, well ventilated, smelling sweetly of our beloved “Bonzodé” cover material, and fully equipped with hand-washing stations and toilet mangers to ensure that users were both comfortable and treating the toilets with the necessary respect. It was ultimately decided (by our personal panel of judges) that SOIL’s toilets took an indisputable first place in attention to detail, comfort of use, public health safety and environmental accountability!
While “waste treatment” in Haiti is often as casual as dumping it in the ocean, and other private companies providing carnival toilets were forced to lease remote plots of land for “disposal” (thereby running the risk of fecal contamination through the groundwater and runoff), supporters of SOIL can have the peace of mind knowing that all of the poo that made its way into a SOIL toilet made it out to the compost site with a beautiful future ahead of it. Six months from now, we can anticipate a fresh new batch of limited edition Carnival 2013 compost.
The positive experience of Carnival 2013 furthers our resolve to keep scaling up our mobile EcoSan toilet social business and also to increase our education and outreach efforts so that other sanitation enterprises in Haiti can apply EcoSan technologies in their waste management and treatment services.
Sharing our knowledge, sharing our techniques and, most importantly, sharing our hopes for a better future and healthier world.
Although to many it may seem that the emergency in Haiti has passed, this is far from the truth for the hundreds of thousands of people still living in tents three years later. The UN estimates that 357,785 people are still homeless as a result of the 2010 earthquake and Haiti is still battling the largest cholera epidemic in recent global history with over 7600 deaths to date and more than 600,000 people treated in clinics for the illness (~6% of the population).
The only way to stop the cholera epidemic is through provision of sanitation services and SOIL’s emergency sanitation program is an important piece of this struggle. Long after most other NGOs have shut down their emergency sanitation programs, the SOIL emergency toilets remain operational and well maintained. Our paid toilet managers help to bring a valued service to their communities, while simultaneously representing the possibility of hope, of employment, and of health. Although the emergency sanitation program is ultimately meant to be temporary, its maintenance has several long-term implications, including increased knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of EcoSan technology, healthier lives for the people utilizing SOIL's environmentally conscious toilets, and increased employment potential for people trained as toilet managers and operators. The SOIL emergency sanitation program is one of our most difficult programs to fund, but despite the challenges, we find it unconscionable to close down our emergency toilets until viable alternative programs have been identified and implemented. Until we are certain that the people using our toilets have another safe and dignified toilet to use, we will continue to maintain our toilets, located in camps throughout Port-au-Prince.
Thanks to the support of our people like you we have been able to keep the SOIL public toilets open in Port-au-Prince's tent cities and we are optimistic that we will continue to raise the support we need to provide these critical services to the families that need them.
All donations to SOIL's Global Giving project in September will be matched $1 for $1 up to $50,000! Help us win matching funds through this special 11th Hour Project challenge grant by letting all your friends now about this opportunity to support innovation sanitation solutions in Haiti. Together we can fight cholera and improve public health in Haiti!