Mar 26, 2018

Monitoring Meteorology in Climate-Vulnerable Haiti

Haiti's fragile climate
Haiti's fragile climate

A little over a year ago SOIL collaborated with scientists from the University of California, Merced and the University of Alaska Southeast to install a weather station at our composting facility near the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.

Why a Weather Station?

First, we wanted to see if local weather conditions influence the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted during the composting process, which has been the primary focus of Becca and Gavin’s research with SOIL. We also wanted to start building a climate record for northern Haiti, a meteorologically dynamic region with sparsely available data.

The weather station captures average conditions as well as the more extreme events and anomalies, which occur far too often in Haiti, one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. Extreme rain events and seasonal drought are expected to become more common without the drastic cuts in carbon emissions that are necessary to curb the impacts of climate change.

On top of incorporating disaster resilience and preparedness into everything we do, SOIL hopes local farmers can use this precipitation data to precisely time their application SOIL’s compost to help bind topsoil, improve water retention, and build erosion-resistant soils.

Assessing the Impact of Weather on SOIL’s Composting Process

Becca and Gavin have already begun to use this data to look for interactions between local weather conditions and the biogeochemical conditions that affect microbial activity in the compost piles.

SOIL is proud to start building these key weather datasets at our composting site and we plan to continue monitoring local meteorology to build a long-term picture of weather in Haiti. SOIL’s weather data can’t change the path of major storms, but it can capture how storms alter conditions locally along Haiti’s northern coast. Ultimately, this information can help inform how we can build sanitation services that are more resilient to extreme climate events.

Click Here to Explore the Meteorological Data

Mar 12, 2018

SOIL Builds Resilient Sanitation Systems

Stakeholder Engagement at SOIL!
Stakeholder Engagement at SOIL!

Here at SOIL we believe that part of why we have had the successes that we have in a country where too many projects struggle to deliver is, in part, due to our commitment to intentional collaboration.

SOIL is committed to working alongside global experts, local communities, and national stakeholders to develop solutions to one of the world’s most challenging crises. Whether it’s through the Container-Based Sanitation Alliance, or with the Haitian government, we know that pooling expertise to coordinate efforts, improve implementation, and support knowledge-sharing is the key to future success.

Building a Durable Sanitation System

In September, three SOIL staff traveled to London for a workshop organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for members of the Container-Based Alliance and their government counterparts. This workshop prepared SOIL’s team for developing our own Sanitation Safety Plans (SSP) for both our sanitation service, EkoLakay, and our waste treatment operations.

Our team has been hard at work to develop SOIL’s SSP, but we knew we couldn’t stop there because implementing this methodology requires going beyond internal evaluation and necessitates collaboration with local authorities as well. So, late last fall, under the thatch roof of SOIL’s Rural Training Center, that’s just what SOIL’s team did when we gathered representatives of the Haitian government’s cholera response team, the Ministry of the Environment, independent water and sanitation experts, and university students (among others) for a two-day Sanitation Safety Planning workshop.

The workshop included training on risk identification and control prioritization, as well as field visits to observe SOIL’s operations in Northern Haiti. With the SSP framework in mind, participants worked together on a series of exercises to identify public health risks throughout SOIL’s entire service chain, assign potential control mechanisms, and rank risks in order to properly prioritize action steps.

Throughout these exercises, participants drew connections between risks in SOIL’s operations and risks in other sanitation models throughout Haiti, from the dangers faced by the bayakou (manual latrine emptiers) to the risks inherent to the septic systems and latrines built in flood zones. These conversations led to convictions to take action through advocacy in government offices and in the community at large. To our delight, this also led to a growing appreciation for SOIL’s dignified, durable, and disaster-resilient model.

More than we could have imagined, this diverse group of participants brought unique expertise, energy, and creativity to the table and the results were inspiring! Beyond developing actionable takeaways to improve safety within SOIL’s operations, we were able to bring together a team of powerful stakeholders that cultivated ideas for their long-term action and engagement.

Late in the evening on the last day of the workshop, long after it had been intended to have finished, participants were making commitments to action and future roles within in the new SSP teams. People lingered to make plans to stay in touch, and of course take a few pictures to document the new connections made.

What’s Next for the SSP Team?

Moving forward, SOIL will continue to lead the SSP team through regular meetings and follow-up on individual commitments to action. In the months ahead, SOIL will continue to map risks and develop control measures within our daily operations and integrate proposals based on the workshop.

We are looking forward to coming together again to ensure we’re building the most durable and safe sanitation system that we possibly can – and to an even happier, healthier 2018.

Dec 15, 2017

Taking Customer Satisfaction Seriously

Happy Customers, Happy SOIL!
Happy Customers, Happy SOIL!

So far this year, EkoLakay has carried out two comprehensive satisfaction surveys in order to gather quantitative and qualitative feedback on the household toilet service. We were pleased to see that customers overwhelmingly reported improved safety, health, and affordability. Despite very high overall satisfaction levels in both customer surveys in both Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, a few customers in Port-au-Prince did note some issues with EkoLakay’s cover material, bonzodè, which led us to look into the production protocol.

Optimizing Production Protocols

The Port-au-Prince EkoLakay team took this feedback seriously and immediately began identifying how we could improve and optimize bonzodè production. The main complaints we received were that the bonzodè was arriving damp, which occasionally had caused it to smell bad or encourage flies. As the “flushing” material for our dry toilets, bonzodè should perform the opposite effect so we knew this was a serious issue to resolve. 

The team sat down and tweaked the protocol to guarantee that the bonzodè arriving at customers’ houses would be dry and pleasant-smelling. They achieved this by making the production schedule such that a bucket of bonzodè will never be sealed for more than 30 minutes before arriving in front of a customer as well as limiting the amount of time bonzodè is in storage.

A couple months after our initial satisfaction survey, we circled back to the 29 customers who had expressed dissatisfaction with bonzodè to thank them for their helpful feedback and to ask if they had seen improvements. We were relieved when all but one of those customers reported that the quality of bonzodè had improved in the past months, most saying that the bonzodè is now always dry. Now, 90% of the customers who were previously dissatisfied have reported that the quality of the bonzodè is “good” or “excellent.”

Happy Customers, Happy SOIL

Using data-based feedback to improve our operations and follow-up with clients was an exercise in how to effectively weave strong customer service into the very fabric of the EkoLakay service. As the extremely positive results of the recent Cap-Haitien satisfaction survey demonstrate, happy customers make loyal customers who will encourage their neighbors to sign up for EkoLakay.  

Plus, we just love that fuzzy feeling of a satisfied client!

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.