Aug 26, 2015

Thirsty for Proper Sanitation

EkoLakay customers in Cap-Haitien, Haiti
EkoLakay customers in Cap-Haitien, Haiti

People in Haiti want sanitation options that keep the water clean and replenish the soil. Even though ecological sanitation (EcoSan) is a new technology to most, people in the neighborhoods where we work are quick to catch on and see all of the benefits, both on a personal and societal level.

We now have over 500 household toilets in Haiti, and that’s only our household toilet program - known as EkoLakay. We also have EkoMobil, our mobile toilet service, and our agriculture, research, and consultancy programs. And we continue to expand our services. In fact we have been growing by about 45 new paying EkoLakay customers per month, while we lose about 5 clients per month. Development practitioners in Haiti are shocked by this rate of growth and by our high rates of payment and retention.

However Emmanuel Antoine, SOIL’s Sanitation Director, is not suprised. He says, “These communities were thirsty for proper sanitation. I feel proud that I work for SOIL because we take a problem and turn it into a solution.” 

Every SOIL toilet keeps dangerous wastes out of the waterways and transforms it into a rich natural resource that is critical for reforestation and agriculture. We are all proud of this work and we hope that you are proud to support us. 

A family signs up for the EkoLakay service
A family signs up for the EkoLakay service

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Aug 26, 2015

Hands On Experience in Haiti

Kettelyne (on left) harvests hot peppers
Kettelyne (on left) harvests hot peppers

Haiti is one of the most food-insecure countries in the world, in large part due to soil infertility and erosion that impede farming. SOIL’s compost helps to restore the soil and raise crops that are healthier, can better sustain drought, and yield larger harvests. But this important work also requires the support and skills of Haitian famers.

In order to get the word out about our compost and to support the capacity of local farmers, SOIL regularly hosts university students for short-term agricultural internships. SOIL’s agricultural interns are all agronomy students at local universities who come to SOIL to fulfill their internship requirement during their last year of schooling. At SOIL they gain practical hands-on experience in lab work, research, and compost production, and some students design and execute experiments in collaboration with the SOIL agricultural department as part of their senior thesis project. 

To better understand the potential impact of a SOIL internship, we interviewed some of our recent agricultural interns. Here are some highlights from those interviews:

Kettleyne

Studying at University of Polyvalan D’Ayiti (UPH), Kettelyne is finishing her degree in Agriculture with a focus on Natural Resources.  She was recently married and her husband studies agriculture as well. Kettleyne and her husband both plan to write their theses on the effects of SOIL compost. After her agricultural internship with SOIL, Kettleyne also returned to SOIL to learn how to construct SOIL’s EkoLakay toilets, and we’ve been seeing her a lot as these construction skills are winning her contracts with us to build more toilets! 

Kettelyne said “The SOIL internship helped me so much. It also helps my school since other students have the chance to get hands-on experience with SOIL. It can be hard for students to get experience in the field, which is so important for an understanding of agriculture. I was really struck by the professionalism of the SOIL office as well -  I didn’t expect to learn so much about professionalism.”

Julien

Julien graduated from the University of Roi Henry Christophe (URHC) and is working in an agricultural partnership with USAID/Avanse distributing plantain plants across the countryside. He also has his own personal farm that he works on with Marckindy, SOIL’s Agricultural Research Assistant. 

“Julien works hard. I’m glad that we’ve continued collaborating together on our farm,” said Marckindy. 

Stanley 

Stanley is finishing school at the University of Limbe (UCRHC) and is preparing to defend his thesis. He wrote his thesis on a cabbage experiment that he completed using several dosages of SOIL compost. Conducting this research helped Stanley refine his techniques for studying sustainable farming techniques, and he looks forward to sharing his results with Haitian farmers. 

“I felt very comfortable at SOIL. My university really appreciated how this internship oriented me in my work.”

Selling eggplants grown on the SOIL farm
Selling eggplants grown on the SOIL farm
Comparing okra harvests
Comparing okra harvests

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Aug 24, 2015

This isn't a game we're playing here!

Andre Vedrine, a member of the SOIL compost team
Andre Vedrine, a member of the SOIL compost team

SOIL’s waste treatment site in northern Haiti, Mouchinette, now has 12 compost bins and three more under construction. We have also have new green uniforms for our staff as well as a huge hangar that was just constructed to store our cover material in bulk quantities. These improvements are extremely exciting to the whole SOIL team, but especially for the six men who make up the compost team.

Their work is unglamorous. It may even be the definition of unglamorous for many people. But these six guys are no short of sanitation superheroes in the eyes of SOIL and the surrounding community.

Why? They take something that is deadly, a leading killer of children under five in Haiti, and transform it into an organic, money-making, earth-nourishing resource. SOIL’s EcoSan system, turning poop into compost, take the problems of access to dignified sanitation and waterborne diseases from fecal contamination, and turn them into the solutions to the agricultural crisis, all while boosting the local economy.

Andre Vedrine has been a member of SOIL’s waste treatment and composting team since 2013. He has a small frame, a big heart, and seven children. He said, “When I first came, Mouchinette was tiny. Now it’s getting huge! This isn’t a game we’re playing here—this is serious! It used to take two and a half weeks to fill up a compost bin; Now we’re filling up the bins every four days.”

Andre said that it’s through teamwork that makes it possible. “We’re a collective. We accomplish everything as a group.”

With nearly 500 household toilets in northern Haiti, it is critical that we have the funding necessary to treat all wastes that we collect. We’re thankful for supporters like you that allow for our team to do this necessary work with more ease and efficiency! 

Building new compost bins at the SOIL site
Building new compost bins at the SOIL site
Loading cover material for SOIL ecological toilets
Loading cover material for SOIL ecological toilets

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