SOIL was formed in 2006 by a team of ecologists and human rights advocates to improve the lives of Haitians. By taking a holistic approach, SOIL’s work simultaneously revives damaged social and natural environments.
EkoLakay is SOIL’s growing household sanitation social business. Customers pay an affordable monthly user fee which covers waste collection and maintenance. All wastes from SOIL’s toilets are collected and safely transformed into compost.
Although SOIL’s implementation efforts are limited to Haiti, its ultimate goal is to prove that sanitation can produce resources, restore ecosystems, nurture solidarity, create dignified livelihoods, and build health and resilience.
Climate: hot and humid tropical climate.
Key words: compost toilets; cities; WASH; poverty; economy; climate resilience.
Beneficiary audience: urban populations.
Number of beneficiaries: 6,500+ service users
Core Activity: delivering an ecological sanitation service to vulnerable communities in Haiti through a social enterprise business model, with community education built in.
Size: two composting waste treatment facilities serving communities in Haiti’s two largest cities, Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien.
SOIL has been working since 2006 to develop a restorative urban sanitation solution, as nearly 75% of people in Haiti do not have access to improved sanitation. SOIL’s toilets require no water to flush and provide a dignified and affordable household toilet service for thousands of people in Haiti’s two largest cities.
To promote dignity, health, and sustainable livelihoods through the transformation of wastes into resources. SOIL achieves this through designing and developing innovative social business models for safe and affordable urban sanitation systems, using an ecological process in which nutrients from human wastes return to the soil as compost rather than polluting precious fresh water resources.
SOIL is a fantastic project for demonstrating how well combined social, environmental and economic benefits can be designed into a project, and taken to a significant scale. SOIL’s work is in a country with some of the highest rates of poverty in the western hemisphere, in communities with severe vulnerability to environmental and public health crises.
Naderge and her family of six have had a SOIL toilet, branded locally as EkoLakay, in their Cap-Haitien home for over two years.
She shared that:
before there were toilets like this, the street was full of waste. Now our situation is changing as more and more people are signing up for EkoLakay. Someday everyone will have a toilet like this, and our community will be clean!
Frantz has worked for SOIL since 2014 when he first joined the organization as a student intern while he completed his degree in agronomy and certificate in accounting. Since then, he’s served as the Administrative Director of SOIL’s Port-au-Prince office and now manages marketing for SOIL’s organic compost and sanitation service as the Sales and Marketing Director.
I’m proud to work with SOIL as we reduce the risk of disease in Haiti. Now people are learning about the risks of untreated waste and have an option for a toilet in their home. As we do this, we’re also supporting agriculture and making a more secure future for the environment as we amend the country’s soils with our compost, Konpòs Lakay.
Even where people have access to toilets in Haiti, those toilets are rarely connected to a waste treatment system. SOIL currently operates the only functioning waste treatment sites in the whole of Haiti.
As a direct result, cholera and other preventable waterborne diseases continue to wreak havoc on Haitian communities. SOIL collects and treats all of the wastes through a process that exceeds World Health Organization standards, keeping dangerous pathogens out of communities and ground water sources.
SOIL employs an ecological sanitation approach to safely treat and transform human waste into rich, fertile compost – a process that is affordable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.
As a pioneer in Container Based Sanitation (CBS) systems, SOIL is transforming one of Haiti’s greatest public health problems into an environmental resource critical for improving agricultural production, reforestation and resilience to climate change in one of the most damaged ecosystems on earth.
SOIL is researching and developing truly long-lasting solutions. Through creating sanitation social businesses that generate local jobs and economic opportunities, SOIL believes that Haiti can begin to repair the environmental and economic damage that has so long crippled the country’s development.
It is clear that SOIL uses data-driven, effective strategies which are based on:
Safe Technical Solution: released in February 2011, the 144-page SOIL Guide to EcoSan is based on SOIL’s findings from over six years of ecological sanitation experience in Haiti. Truly revolutionary, the Guide covers topics such as toilet designs, management strategies, composting techniques and lessons learned.
The SOIL Guide is available in English and Haitian Creole. The comprehensive SOIL Guide to EcoSan has been shared over 1,300 times across 97 countries. To download a copy fill out the short request form at https://www.oursoil.org/resources/the-soil-guide-to-ecosan/
Thorough Research & Testing: throughout the project’s evolution, SOIL has implemented a rigorous approach to research, working alongside global experts and public health institutions, to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the waste treatment and transformation processes.
An Appropriate and Effective Social Business Model: SOIL’s social business model is a fundamental aspect of its success to date, enabling it to operate with a high degree of independence and cost-effectiveness, thus allowing them to deliver a responsive, dynamic service where traditional aid models often have proved ineffective.
SOIL operates in a country where too many organizations have struggled to deliver on their goals, and too many billions of dollars have been spent on failed projects.
SOIL sees their unusual success as the result of their commitments to:
Cultural Fluency: Over 85% of SOIL staff members are Haitian. All staff speak the local language (Haitian Creole) to facilitate communication and understanding with the communities where they operate.
Local Sourcing: SOIL purchases supplies locally and contracts with local businesses whenever possible, keeping their costs down while investing in the long-term growth of Haiti’s economy. You can learn how SOIL works with local contractors for their toilet construction here.
Inclusivity: Beneficiaries are consulted at every step of project design and implementation, ensuring that SOIL’s programs are community-driven and responding to real, not simply perceived, needs.
Expertise: SOIL values knowledge gained through both formal training and life experience, and because their dedicated employees live and work in the communities SOIL serves, they are truly experts in local solutions for sanitation, agriculture, public health, business development and community organizing.
For example, Jose “Leno” Philistin, SOIL’s lab coordinator in Northern Haiti got his start as an intern in a hospital, where he saw first-hand the devastation caused by preventable waterborne disease. Read his story here.
SOIL is a fantastic demonstration of the use and value of the permaculture principle: the problem is the solution.
By confronting one of the major social and environmental problems in Haiti head-on, SOIL has generated significant social, environmental and economic solutions, that benefit many thousands of people, with the potential to be taken much further.
Removal of Limiting Factors: by carefully designing an ecologically based social business model, SOIL is developing an innovative financial model aiming to overcome the financial limitations that make this global crisis particularly tough to tackle, enabling a more dynamic, effective and creative organisation and product-service solution to emerge.
Permaculture Principles in Action: the problem is the solution; multi-function; small change for big effects; relative location; observe & interact; removal of limiting factors.
SOIL’s solutions are supported and fed by their community education programmes.
Together these have multiplied and grown the diversity of beneficial impacts they produce. What experience from SOIL could help your project, community or network in relation to:
a) Delivering community education programmes that support and expand the delivery of practical solutions?
b) Developing effective social business models?
c) Delivering and scaling up ecological sanitation solutions?
d) Developing regenerative permaculture and agroecology education, teacher training and demonstration projects that relates to local needs?
e) Project development and evolution, to scale-up in valuable ways at the local level?
Although SOIL’s implementation efforts are limited to Haiti, its ultimate goal is to prove that regenerative sanitation solutions can produce resources, restore ecosystems, nurture solidarity, create dignified livelihoods, and build health and resilience.
The Lush Spring Prize is helping SOIL to continue to expand its work in Haiti, whilst at the same time supporting its work to make safe, affordable sanitation solutions available to some of the most impoverished communities around the world, in ways that regenerate people’s lives and communities, the soil and wider local environment, and local economies.
Projects Needs: SOIL’s work in Haiti depends on the contributions of generous individuals. To help cultivate their
regenerative sanitation solutions, visit oursoil.org/donate.
SOIL’s Offers: model approaches to Container Based Sanitation systems – the SOIL Guide to EcoSan is available via:
https://www.oursoil.org/resources/the-soil-guide-to-ecosan/ and further online resources at SOIL Resources page.
Other Collaboration opportunities: feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with collaboration proposals.
SOIL is a 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization that has been working in Haiti since 2006.
SOIL’s team is led by six directors who report to a volunteer Board of Directors made up of members of the community of donors, volunteers and allies of the organization who display the professional experience, dedication, and responsibility needed to lead SOIL. SOIL has 77 staff – over 85% of SOIL’s staff are Haitian and local to the neighborhoods served by SOIL.
In 2017 SOIL’s income was derived from the following sources: Foundation grants (53.3%); Individual contributions (23.5%); Religious, civic & partner organisations (16.1%); earned income (6.9%); corporate giving (0.2%)
Within this income, individual contributions nearly doubled, and the percentage of SOIL’s revenue coming from earned income was increased by around 50% in 2017.
You can learn more about SOIL and make a contribution to their work at oursoil.org/donate