SOILHaiti 7 November 2019

Understanding Why Families Join SOIL’s Sanitation Service


SOIL provides employment in Haiti’s sanitation sector to more than 70 people, but beyond that, we strive to provide employment and internship opportunities whenever possible. Recently, SOIL hired 15 university students from various academic backgrounds in northern Haiti to assist with a study we are conducting to better understand why people join and remain a part of SOIL’s EkoLakay sanitation service.

Background on the Research

The 26-day long study took place in Cap-Haitïen alongside our partners at OPEPA, the Haitian Government’s local water and sanitation authority in the northern region, and researchers at the University of Oregon, Froggi VanRiper and Kory Russel.

Despite undertaking this study during an incredibly challenging moment in Haiti, the team was able to connect with an astounding 600+ EkoLakay users to have important conversations about their sanitation service needs, expenses, and experiences on the service. Some of the data collected included demographic information, purchase patterns, economic indicators, and household infrastructure details. Though the surveying process is now complete and the data is currently being processed, preliminary findings show that majority of families using EkoLakay felt it is important to the community that the service continues.

Get to Know the Research Team

The 15-member student research team helped SOIL improve the structure of the questions on the survey as well as conduct the surveys in the field. Even in the face of having to adapt the survey to the phone as navigating roads became more challenging, the entire team remained motivated and energized throughout the survey’s entirety!

Among the group was Berlin, an observant and dedicated agronomy student who works with community organizations in Shada, the neighborhood where he lives in Cap-Haïtien. Berlin had worked with SOIL in the past as an Interim Composting Coordinator, and wanted a chance to work with together with us again in a different capacity.

Emelyne, another student who helped with the efforts, is an administrator with previous experience conducting research surveys. Throughout her time working with SOIL she helped overcome technical and logistical issues that arose. She also handled difficult phone calls creatively and was great at building rapport with respondents to help encourage open conversations.

Coming Up Next

Following a successful wrap up of the customer surveys, our team has been hard at work translating the results as well as organizing and analyzing the data. Our research partners at the University of Oregon hope to publish the findings in a paper and we are looking forward to using the results to support ongoing efforts to build a growing and customer-oriented service in Haiti. Beyond that, the research will be shared with container-based sanitation practitioners worldwide as a way to share learnings on sanitation service retention.

Stay tuned for an update when we get the final results!

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