Sanitation for 3,500 Earthquake Victims in Haiti

Young Carnival goers check out a SOIL toilet
Young Carnival goers check out a SOIL toilet

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.

On the 3rd day of Carnival, Monika, SOIL's Program Manager in Cap-Haitien, took on the gallant task of going about town to explore how the different models were holding up with the rhythm and flow of this national event. The toilets from the large-scale providers were classic plastic latrine models with a toilet seat, side urinal, and pipe ventilation. The toilets have a waste removal function at the back, from which waste is removed by a giant suction device and transported away in a large tank truck. The first port-a-potty Monika visited was impressively clean, having just been serviced, however the subsequent samples showed the expected disarray of a mobile public latrine – discarded trash piles in the urinal, unidentified materials smeared on the floor and walls, and a nice, stinky pool of waste in the latrine basin.

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.

Showing of SOIL
Showing of SOIL's EcoSan compost "Konpos Lakay!"
SOIL Pride
SOIL Pride
SOIL joins the parade
SOIL joins the parade
SOIL EcoSan toilets at Haiti Carnival
SOIL EcoSan toilets at Haiti Carnival


A SOIL toilet manager prepares for a drum pickup.
A SOIL toilet manager prepares for a drum pickup.

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.

Waiting for the SOIL drum pickup in Port-au-Prince
Waiting for the SOIL drum pickup in Port-au-Prince


Aba Kolera - Down with cholera!
Aba Kolera - Down with cholera!

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!

Vincent shows off his clean washed hands
Vincent shows off his clean washed hands



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Organization Information


Location: Sherburne, New York - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Leah Page
Sherburne, NY United States

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