A Safer Sanitation Solution for Women and Girls

  • SOIL's full cycle sanitation service is one of the few global interventions that complies with the updated SDG for sanitation.

Photo: Bernard Cherelus

Since 2006, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) has worked tirelessly to bring our holistic ecological sanitation solution to life in Haiti. Thanks to the support of our friends and partners, we are demonstrating that it’s possible to provide safe, dignified and affordable sanitation services to resource poor urban communities.

About SOIL’s EkoLakay Household Sanitation Service

With the support of USAID’s Global Development Lab, SOIL’s growing social business pilot EkoLakay provides household-level sanitation to families in some of Haiti’s most vulnerable urban communities. Each household is provided with an in-home composting toilet, maintenance services and weekly waste collection. Our composting waste treatment system focuses not only on the treatment of human waste, but on the transformation of those wastes into a valuable resource that we are using to revitalize Haiti’s environment and agricultural sector.

Every month EkoLakay users pay a small service fee. With cost reductions and innovations, we believe that this fee will ultimately fully cover the cost of providing EkoLakay – proving a revolutionary, working social business model for safe and dignified household sanitation.

Increased Access, Improved Safety

Not having access to an in-home toilet means having to leave the house and often travel at considerable length to reach sanitation facilities, which can be dangerous in many urban areas— particularly for women and girls. The connection between gender-based violence and a lack of access to safe sanitation is well-documented globally, as explored thoroughly in this 2005-06 World Bank review.

As one in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced physical or sexual violence, finding ways to mitigate and prevent gender-based violence is critical. SOIL works to combat gender-based violence by offering our clients household toilets, which provide a sense of pride as well as increased safety and security, especially for women and girls. Having a toilet at home not only means that women have a private, safe space to use the toilet and manage menstruation, but it also increases safety from violence as beneficiaries no longer have to rely on using a shared or public option outside of the home.

In 2012, SOIL and our partners at Re.Source Sanitation conducted a survey on sanitation coverage in Haiti’s second largest city, Cap-Haitien. What we found was that that prior to having an EkoLakay toilet installed, only 30 percent of participants reported feeling safe from physical or sexual assault when using their primary sanitation option. After becoming EkoLakay users, 91 percent of respondents reported that they felt safe from physical or sexual violence. Just this year, a survey of SOIL’s EkoLakay clients in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince found that an astonishing 97 percent of customers felt that their quality of life in terms of security had improved after signing up for the service.

Izidor Danie, an EkoLakay client with five young children living in the Shada neighborhood of Cap-Haitien, reported feeling significantly safer now that she and her children do not have to go outside to relieve themselves during the night: “Pandan lanwit mwen te ka gon bezwen epi se deyò mal fè l. Kounye a ak eko lavi m sekirize anpil nan sans sa” (“During the night whenever I had to go, I had to go outside. Now with [EkoLakay] I have a greater sense of security in my life.”)

To learn more about the work SOIL does to expand access to safe, dignified sanitation in Haiti, please visit this page.

USAID’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence page.

#16Days #EndGBV

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