SOIL and Re.Source Co-Author Second Paper on Household Sanitation
Back in May we excitedly announced that we had co-authorized a paper with our collaborators at re.source sanitation (and you can check it out here). We now are pleased to say that the second paper from this collaboration has hit the press!
As we started researching and planning our household sanitation service in Haiti, we became very aware of how little is known about user demand and perception for household ecological sanitation (EcoSan) services. Would our target customers even want these toilets? Would they be proud of them? Would they feel like they were modern or would they be put off by the new technology? What impact would these toilets and the accompanying service have on their personal safety? Because modern container-based household toilet services are currently offered in only a very small number of locations, we could find no published literature regarding their success in meeting users’ felt needs and preferences.
Therefore we are now delighted to share this second publication about SOIL’s household toilet program in the peer-reviewed journal Environment & Urbanization. The paper shares a wealth of data from SOIL’s initial pilot of the program in 2011-2012, conducted in partnership with our friends and co-authors at re.source sanitation, a Stanford University-based group of sanitation researchers.
We encourage you to check out the full paper if you share our fascination with this topic, but here’s a small sampling of some of the interesting findings:
- Between 35%-45% of households in each cohort reported practicing open defecation and/or using flying toilets (plastic bags). This number went down to zero for the cohort that received a SOIL household toilet.
- After receiving a SOIL household toilet service, people were at least 9.5 times more likely to report satisfaction with its sanitation situation, on average, than people in similar comparison cohorts that did not receive SOIL toilet services.
- After receiving the SOIL household toilet service, people reported that their household’s sanitation situation conferred feelings of pride, modernity, and safety.
- While our study did not have the statistical power to evaluate the magnitude of change in stored water contamination or incidence of diarrhoeal disease, none of the collected data suggests that introduction of a SOIL household toilet was associated with increased faecal contamination of the household environment.
The results from this study suggest that, in the context of urban Haiti, household sanitation systems like SOIL’s have the potential to satisfy many residents’ desire for safe, convenient and modern sanitation services. In this setting, it appears that well-designed toilets and professionalized collection service procedures can also avoid the stigma historically associated with bucket latrines and similar “low-tech” sanitation options.
Many thanks to our co-authors Kory Russel, Sebastien Tilmans, Rachel Sklar, Daniel Tillias, and Jennifer Davis, and to the foundations that contributed to making this research possible (the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Grand Challenges Canada, Oxfam GB, the 11th Hour Project, and the American Red Cross). Special thanks to BMGF for their support in making this publication open-access. We’re so grateful to have partners in academia who help us share our lessons learned, making it possible to scale this work through replication.
Finally, a huge “thank you” to all of our friends who have supported SOIL’s revolutionary sanitation work over the years. We’re so grateful to have your support as we continue to test and refine the EkoLakay household toilet service. If you want to keep up with the latest EkoLakay news, follow SOIL on Facebook and Twitter!