Our new lab in Port-au-Prince!
In order to provide compost of the highest quality and ensure that we comply with the Haitian government’s requirements and WHO safety guidelines, we perform regular microbiological and physicochemical testing on each pile of compost produced in our sites.
Our lab in Cap-Haitien was previously testing all of our compost, including that produced in Port-au-Prince. That required significant logistical coordination to ship the samples across the country, sometimes by plane sometimes by bus, since the samples need to be processed in less than 24 hours to ensure the tests’ accuracy.
Recently, thanks to donations from the Palo Alto Rotary Club, IDEXX lab, and two individual donors, we were finally able to develop our lab capacity in Port-au-Prince so that we have a fully functioning lab in each office.
With a new incubator purchased by the Rotary Club and the Colilert® Quanty-tray System® from IDEXX, the Port-au-Prince lab now has the capacity to test for Total Coliforms and E.coli, a standard indicator of fecal contamination.
In order to kick-start the testing in Port-au-Prince, we organized a two-day training session with the five future lab technicians: Jean-Marie (Director of Composting and Agriculture), Jimmy (Sanitation Director), Lafalaise (Agriculture team), Hervé (Composting and Agriculture Coordinator) and Pierre Richard (Agriculture Research Assistant).
We first organized, sorted and cleaned the lab. We installed the brand new equipment: an incubator, a quantity sealer, a UV lamp, a scale, a blender and some lab glassware. We then reviewed the lab safety rules. After collecting samples at our composting site in Truitier, we processed them together, carefully following the testing protocol customized to SOIL’s compost. After letting the processed samples incubate for 24 hours, we were finally able to read the results and finish the training session with an exam for the participants that everyone passed successfully.
As Jimmy explained, “Before there was a lab in the Port-au-Prince office, we had many difficulties testing our beautiful finished compost. When the new Idexx machine arrived, we already felt really excited, but knew we would be even happier when we can start to use it after this training. It was a really important moment for the Port-au-Prince team. The training was a great collaboration between the two offices as we march towards progress for Haiti.”
We will now be able to perform routine testing of our compost in Port-au-Prince, which will be extremely helpful to extend our composting activities and sanitation services! Many thanks to IDEXX and the Palo Alto Rotary Club for their gracious support of these efforts!