Resource Magazine: "Haiti Fights Cholera by Recycling Human Waste"
Written March 11, 2013 by Annie Reece for Resource Magazine
A non-profit organisation dedicated to ‘protecting soil resources, empowering communities and transforming wastes into resources’ in Haiti is fighting a cholera epidemic in the Caribbean country by recycling human waste.
Cholera – a waterborne disease that spreads through faeces-infected water and can be deadly – has reached epidemic proportions in Haiti. According to the World Health Organization, Haiti accounted for 58 per cent of all cholera cases (and 37 per cent of cholera deaths) in 2011.
To help stem the spread of the disease, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is recycling human waste into fertiliser.
According to SOIL, ‘most toilets [in Haiti] flush directly into rivers or the ocean and latrines are either abandoned when full or emptied untreated into sites that, again, leach directly into rivers or the ocean’.
To help stem the contamination of water from pathogens such as cholera, SOIL has introduced ‘EcoSan’ waterless toilets to the country to improve sanitation and produce a much-needed compost.
Human wastes collected from EcoSan toilets are composted for six months to ensure that all pathogens have been killed and that the organic matter has sufficiently broken down to be used for agricultural uses. It is then mixed with sugar can bagasse (a byproduct of local rum production systems) to make compost needed for agriculture and reforestation projects in Haiti, as many farmers cannot afford chemical fertilisers.
The organisation currently transforms ‘thousand of gallons of human excreta per week’ into compost needed for agriculture and reforestation projects in Haiti and is now the largest waste treatment operation in the country.
Speaking to the Guardian, Dr Sasha Kramer, Executive Director of the SOIL Board, said: “If we can take all the poop that’s making people sick right now and turn it into this really valuable resource that could be used for reforestation or for increased agricultural production, then you really take a problem and turn it into a solution.”