Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti

by SOIL
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti
Expanding Climate-Positive Sanitation in Haiti

Algate has been part of the SOIL team since 2012. She originally had a 1-month trial contract, which turned into years of dedicated contribution to SOIL’s mission. Because of her positive energy, tireless commitment to community engagement and education, and increased responsibility in the EkoLakay program, SOIL Cap-Haitien honored Algate as the employee of the month in January 2016!

I interviewed Algate to see what drives her to work so hard to improve sanitation in her community. She doesn’t say so in the interview, but she brought in a whopping 227 new EkoLakay household toilet clients in 2015. Be sure to watch the song she composed for EkoLakay after reading the interview!

Algate marketing EkoLakay in Avyasyon

What is your position in SOIL?

I work SOIL as the Hygiene Promoter and Sanitation Coordinator Assistant. I’m the one who does trainings with people to show them how to use SOIL toilets in a hygienic way. I do marketing as well.

What is your typical day at work like?

I work in the field doing door-to-door visits at clients’ houses to talk to them about how to use their EkoLakay toilet well. And for people who don’t have toilets, I try to get them interested in our system and install an EkoLakay toilet in their home. There are some clients that are really happy when I show up at their house to install a toilet. They congratulate me and they congratulate SOIL. I really appreciate that feeling.

What brought you to work with SOIL?

I love SOIL’s work in Haiti because our country has had a lot of public health problems. Diseases spread because human waste is not contained or treated. SOIL’s work is important in Cap-Haitien because people in Cap-Haitien openly defecate, there’s no sanitation, and these are very unhygienic conditions.

150701 Prof Vic cap avyasyon frantz tilajan algate sign gps hht gcc

If a lot of people in Okap have toilets, there would be more cleanliness and people could live healthier lives. I would be really happy if SOIL could make an even bigger impact in Haiti so that we can finally resolve the preventable diseases that Haitians come in contact with every day.

Check out Algate’s song!

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Lovenie Charles and her family
Lovenie Charles and her family

It’s World Toilet Day! Around 2.5 BILLION people around the world don’t have access to a safe toilet, which is why diarrhea and other waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death for children under five.

Today we are celebrating World Toilet Day by increasing our efforts to expand access to dignified toilets through outreach events in the communities where we work. 

We believe that sanitation is a basic human right, and we look forward to promoting this vision in solidarity with the 2.5 billion people around the world who do not have access to a toilet. We commit to follow our vision through the ups and downs, not only for the larger cause but also for our individual customers on a day-to-day basis.

Lovanie Charles, an EkoLakay customer in Cap-Haitien, told us: “We want more toilets, more protection. If we have more toilets in this neighborhood, we’ll have more environmental protection against disease.”

So this November, while you’re reflecting on all that makes you grateful, don’t forget to include your toilet on the list! And we continue to be so grateful for your support as we work to make safe, dignified sanitation accessible for everyone.  

New household toilets under construction
New household toilets under construction
Herlande and Marion's #WorldToiletDay #unselfies
Herlande and Marion's #WorldToiletDay #unselfies

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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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A SOIL EkoLakay toilet
A SOIL EkoLakay toilet

In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, SOIL’s pilot project for the dry household toilets known as “EkoLakay” is off to a terrific start. Our team is looking professional and proud in new spring green uniforms, our operations are becoming more efficient by the day, and our early adopters (the very first customers to sign up for EkoLakay) have been giving dazzling reviews.

One customer, Bertony, said, “Nou gen yon pakèt resous nou gaspiye an Ayiti. Ak twalèt sa nou ka chanje sistèm nan,” which translates to: “We have many many resources in Haiti that are wasted. With this toilet, we can change the system.”

Similar sentiments were echoed elsewhere on a client checkup that we did last week in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood where EkoLakay is just now being introduced. We were also delightfully surprised to see that some new customers are actually choosing to close or remove flush toilets in their homes in favor of SOIL’s toilets. Flush toilets are problemmatic in Haiti because there is often not running water in the toilet tank and there is rarely waste treatment for what gets flushed. But we find it very encouraging that even people who can afford a flush toilet choose a SOIL toilet because they see the environmental and social benefits of using a dry toilet, where the “waste” can be captured and transformed into compost.

To be honest, we had been operating under the assumption that the environmental impact is not ultimately what motivates customers to change their behavior in the bathroom. After speaking with EkoLakay’s early adopters in Port-au-Prince, it looks like we may have been wrong on that one! These kinds of insights can teach us a lot about marketing and behavioral change, two critical components to our social business development. In a country where less than 20% of people have access to safe toilets and there is minimal waste treatment, we are thrilled that individuals are motivated to seek out solutions that benefit themselves and their communities.

We are so proud of our team, our clients, and beneficiaries, and our donors for being brave enough to engage with an issue that is normally taboo. We can’t wait for the day that everyone has access to a safe toilet! Thank you so much for your support in this endeavor.

Potential customers inspect a SOIL toilet
Potential customers inspect a SOIL toilet
SOIL's Sasha Kramer helping collect poo buckets!
SOIL's Sasha Kramer helping collect poo buckets!

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Women carpenters construct SOIL toilets
Women carpenters construct SOIL toilets

SOIL has been working in Haiti to research and develop sustainable sanitation solutions that provide livelihoods opportunities in the private sector. For example, our EkoLakay household toilet program is a social business pilot that is testing a revolutionary new way to sustainably provide affordable, dignified sanitation services. In this program, a family pays approximately $5 per month to rent their toilet, and this fee covers maintenance and biweekly waste collection. After collecting the buckets and providing clean ones in return, SOIL takes the toilet waste to a treatment site to safely transform it into rich, organic compost. This compost is then used to rebuild Haiti's soil and support reforestation and agriculture. 

The EkoLakay program currently has 296 paid toilets serving 2,225 people. However, with your support we are excited to be scaling up with a goal of reaching at least 7,500 people over the coming year. Along this journey to scale-up, we will continue to research opportunities to create local jobs along the sanitation value chain. We are currently experimenting with neighborhood collection points that will help us reduce transportation costs and provide income for a local EkoLakay manager or franchise owner. We are still working on this pilot, so stay tuned!

In another effort to support the local economy, we have also decided to hand over toilet construction to local entrepreneurs. We have trained local carpenters to make EkoLakay toilets, and each time we expand the EkoLakay business we place a request for bids with these local carpentars who then construct a given number of toilets that SOIL then purchases. Our parameters are that the toilets must be able to fit a waste collection bucket inside, have space for urine diversion, and be constructed for less than $50 per unit.  

A local women's collective has taken on the challenge and won several big bids with SOIL. We bought ferro-cement toilets from them and we are happy with the product. An exciting byproduct of collaborating with local carpenters is that they have innovative ideas to change the technology in ways that we never thought of before. They've come up with improvements that our customers like even better than the original design. Katy, one of these carpenters, says that she has enjoyed expanding her technical skills during training the SOIL team. 

SOIL is proud to be providing jobs to 70 staff members and contracting with local independent carpenters. As our EkoLakay household toilet program expands, we will be generating even more independent livelihood opportunities so that Haiti will be on a path to create hundreds of new jobs and achieve 100% access to sanitation, decreasing the country's dependence on foreign aid while boosting the economy and increasing health and agricultural productivity. It's a big goal, but we believe it's possible. Thank you for your support!

Katy works on a SOIL EkoLakay toilet
Katy works on a SOIL EkoLakay toilet
Building eco toilets in Haiti
Building eco toilets in Haiti

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Organization Information

SOIL

Location: Sherburne, New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SOILhaiti
Project Leader:
Eliza Parish
Sherburne, New York United States
$49,536 raised of $75,000 goal
 
483 donations
$25,464 to go
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