SOIL EcoSan Toilets Provide Sanitation Services for Haiti's National Carnival

This year Cap-Haitien was chosen to host Haiti’s National Carnival and we’re all still recovering from a beautiful week of dancing and music. The city saw an influx of over one million people: hotels were fully booked months ago, new ones were being built overnight, friends were pulling out extra bedding and sleep mats, and tents were popping up all over the city. But even in the midst of Haiti’s biggest party, SOIL was focusing on sanitation!

Through collaboration with the city and the Haitian government ministry for sanitation (Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement or DINEPA), SOIL built 10 mobile ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets along the main boulevard of Shada II, the community in which SOIL has a longstanding friendship and sanitation history. These toilets combined with the over 500 additional toilets placed around the city by other local businesses and carnival officials helped provide critical sanitation services throughout the festivities.

Young Carnival participants check out a SOIL mobile toilet in Cap-Haitien

On the 3rd day of Carnival, Monika took on the gallant task of going about town to explore how the different models were holding up with the rhythm and flow of this national event. The toilets from the large-scale providers were classic plastic latrine models with a toilet seat, side urinal, and pipe ventilation. The toilets have a waste removal function at the back, from which waste is removed by a giant suction device and transported away in a large tank truck. The first port-a-potty Monika visited was impressively clean, having just been serviced, however the subsequent samples showed the expected disarray of a mobile public latrine – discarded trash piles in the urinal, unidentified materials smeared on the floor and walls, and a nice, stinky pool of waste in the latrine basin.

Thankfully SOIL toilets did not fail to deliver their usual optimum quality of service and use! The toilets were orderly, well ventilated, smelling sweetly of our beloved “Bonzodé” cover material, and fully equipped with hand-washing stations and toilet mangers to ensure that users were both comfortable and treating the toilets with the necessary respect. It was ultimately decided (by our personal panel of judges) that SOIL’s toilets took an indisputable first place in attention to detail, comfort of use, public health safety and environmental accountability!

While “waste treatment” in Haiti is often as casual as dumping it in the ocean, and other private companies providing carnival toilets were forced to lease remote plots of land for “disposal” (thereby running the risk of fecal contamination through the groundwater and runoff), supporters of SOIL can have the peace of mind knowing that all of the poo that made its way into a SOIL toilet made it out to the compost site with a beautiful future ahead of it. Six months from now, we can anticipate a fresh new batch of limited edition Carnival 2013 compost.

The positive experience of Carnival 2013 furthers our resolve to keep scaling up our mobile EcoSan toilet social business and also to increase our education and outreach efforts so that other sanitation enterprises in Haiti can apply EcoSan technologies in their waste management and treatment services.

Sharing our knowledge, sharing our techniques and, most importantly, sharing our hopes for a better future and healthier world.
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