Nov 21, 2014

Marketing Compost in Haiti

Expanding the SOIL Cap-Haitien Composting Facility
Expanding the SOIL Cap-Haitien Composting Facility

SOIL transforms wastes into resources in Haiti through a process called Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan), simultaneously breaking the cycle of disease while completing the nutrient cycle. We collect wastes from our dry household toilets, marketed as EkoLakay, which we then transform into completely safe, agricultural grade compost in a six to nine month process. With simple and locally appropriate technologies, we are able to tackle some of Haiti’s toughest challenges while also developing a social business model that will ultimately ensure financial sustainability as well as ecological sustainability.

At two waste treatment sites, SOIL currently treats over 20,000 gallons of human waste per month. With no other waste treatment options in the neighborhoods we service, it is sad to admit that without SOIL’s collection and treatment, all of this waste would end up polluting fresh water sources and sickening communities. Instead, it is transformed into a badly-needed resource that helps increase Haiti’s soil resiliency and food security!

Since SOIL was founded 2006, we have sold over 75,000 gallons of compost. Thanks in part to your support, in August, we were able to double our waste treatment capacity in Cap-Haitien in preparation for 1,000 additional household toilets, meaning that we will be producing more than 8,000 gallons a month of compost!

Marketing to the “Base of the Pyramid”

The increase in compost production has to be accompanied by an increase in sales if we are to successfully demonstrate the feasibility of social business scale-up. That’s why we’ve created a marketing and sales committee within SOIL that focuses on how to increase our customer base and keep them happy with top-notch services and products. To kickstart our marketing strategies, we met with Digicel, Haiti’s largest mobile service provider and one of the most successful businesses in the country.

We are looking for tips on how to access markets at the “base of the pyramid,” a business term for the most economically disadvantaged. We are working to develop a social business that generates enough income to provide jobs for otherwise unemployed people and while also ensuring that the people who need these goods and services the most are not priced out. We strongly believe that catalyzing local entrepreneurship and innovation is the first step in creating dignity, health, and sustainable livelihoods.

Ecological Sanitation: Increasing Access to Health and Resources

Recently SOIL has been increasing access to compost though an initiative called “Jaden Kay,” which means household garden. In this project, our agricultural team supports the development of demonstration gardens on the roofs of some SOIL EkoLakay toilet users. We provide a startup kit that includes an optimal mixture of soil and compost, as well as seeds and some repurposed containers or old tires to use as garden beds.

Our customers appreciate being able to experience the whole ecological sanitation (EcoSan) cycle in their house- they use their toilet, then SOIL collects their waste and safely transforms it into compost, which they then use to grow the food that they will eat, starting the cycle all over again.

Marline, a SOIL EkoLakay customer since 2012, has had a SOIL Jaden Kay for several months now. She told us, “I am very happy about getting this garden and getting this toilet, because everyone who comes here and goes to use the toilet always have a lot of questions about it. Some don’t even believe that this is possible. They are also very happy to see a garden on top of the roof, so some of them would like to get the same system in their house.”

Successful examples or urban gardening are crucial for supporting the grassroots movement that is necessary to reach food security in such a challenging context. Contributing compost to this effort makes SOIL proud.

Planning SOIL's marketing strategy
Planning SOIL's marketing strategy
SOIL's Konpos Lakay bagged for sale!
SOIL's Konpos Lakay bagged for sale!

Links:

Nov 21, 2014

EkoMobil - An Ecological Sanitation Social Business for Haiti

Checking out an EkoMobil toilet
Checking out an EkoMobil toilet

SOIL is working to transform conditions in Haiti with both short-term projects that address critical needs and a long-term strategy to expand sanitation access through social business models. One of SOIL's sanitation social businesses, EkoMobil, is playing an important role in promoting the use of ecological sanitation systems in Haiti while also providing SOIL with critical revenue for supporting ongoing projects.

Starting in 2010, aid groups began to donate used porta-potties to SOIL, remnants of attempts to provide sanitation in post-earthquake Haiti. The problems with porta-potties are manifold: they are not a sustainable, ecological nor, arguably, dignified way for people to access a toilet. They are also expensive to construct, import, and maintain. For these reasons we find great pleasure in tearing apart porta-potties at SOIL. We turn them into “EkoMobil” composting toilets that are used at festivals and rented by churches, schools, and individuals around Haiti.

Unlike a porta-potty, SOIL's EkoMobil toilets do not stink or pollute the environment. The finished product is not “waste” that has to be disposed of somewhere, but a resource that provides compost where it is badly needed. And throughout the process, SOIL is happily creating livelihood opportunities to Haitians in the sanitation sector in jobs that are increasingly valorized, not stigmatized.

Impact

EkoMobil rentals have generated as much as $2,000 in a single month. This revenue helps support SOIL’s humanitarian relief and research efforts.

EkoMobil toilets also serve the very important function of helping us advertise the many benefits of EcoSan toilets to a wider audience. Overtime we expect this to increase demand for our EkoLakay household toilets and other social business services in Haiti - helping us achieve our ultimate goal of increasing sanitation access nationally.

SOIL’s initiative has the potential to vastly expand sanitation access in an affordable, sustainable way, while creating new jobs and livelihoods. Its model not only prevents further harm to the environment, it actively restores soil health through compost generation – reducing food insecurity, erosion, mudslides, and flooding in the process. SOIL strives to inspire a shift to a more ecological and equitable sanitation solution globally while working every day to increase national access to sanitation in Haiti.” – Jon Hera, The Globe and Mail, November 14, 2014.

Links:

May 21, 2014

An Exciting Transition

A family shows off their SOIL toilet
A family shows off their SOIL toilet

Time of Transition

Since the 2010 earthquake, SOIL has been one of the few NGOs to provide consistent, safe, dignified sanitation to residents of tent camps around Port-au-Prince. Four and a half years after the later, there is still much rebuilding to be done in Haiti. However, as tent camps continue to slowly empty, SOIL has begun to shift from emergency relief to long-term development.

Development in the sanitation sector is sorely needed. Even before the earthquake, the vast majority (approximately 80%) of Haitians lacked access to safe sanitation. SOIL is working to change this reality by researching and developing a social business model for sanitation. SOIL’s model is one of the few interventions around the world that has shown early success in creating a financially-sustainable sanitation service that eliminates the need for waterborne sewage systems and produces an endless supply of safe, agricultural-grade compost to increase soil water retention and improve food security.

In line with this model, SOIL is converting former emergency toilets into communal household toilets, in which a group of families share the cost of maintenance (approximately $5 USD/month). SOIL collects wastes from the ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets and transports them to a composting waste treatment facility where the waste is safely transformed into rich, agricultural-grade compost. This compost is then sold for agricultural application, improving both the fertility and water retention of soil. Revenue from monthly toilet user fees, waste treatment fees, and compost sales are collected to support ongoing project costs and to showcase the private sector potential to affordably and sustainably provide sanitation services in the world’s most impoverished and water-scarce communities.

Stay involved:

Learn more about SOIL’s social business model at our new Global Giving project, Expanding Sustainable Sanitation in Haiti.

We hope that you will stay connected with our work in Haiti by following @SOILHaiti on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 
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