SOIL Receives Stamp of Approval from Haitian Ministry of Environment

BNEE staff visiting Konpòs Lakay customer’s coffee plantation

When SOIL first started out building our composting waste treatment facility in the northern Haitian community of Mouchinette  in 2012, the only thing on the property was a big mango tree. Since then, the SOIL team has completely transformed the site into a beautiful, efficient, and highly productive composting facility. Now, alongside that original welcoming mango tree, Mouchinette is a flurry of activity, with SOIL team members working hard to empty containers, turn and nurture the compost, and maintain the growing facility.  

In 2019, we expanded the composting site to accommodate growth of households on the service – which meant nearly doubling the size of our waste treatment operations!  Our teams were now safely collecting nearly twice the amount of pathogenic waste from the communities using EkoLakay toilets, as well as doubling the amount of restorative     , agricultural-grade compost being returned to the soil. We’ve gained a lot of experience over the years that has informed our operational efficiency and SOIL is proud to be operating the safest and most efficient composting facility since we began transforming waste in Haiti in 2006, and Haiti’s Ministry of Environment thinks so too!

In Haiti, environmental law dictates that all major projects such as waste treatment sites, should get approval before construction. However, this law was passed in 2015 when BNEE, (Haiti’s National Bureau of Environmental Assessments) was created, and our site was already operational then, and therefore we were never required to obtain pre-approval. However, we hate to miss out on an opportunity to strengthen environmental systems, and maintaining a close, working relationship with the Haitian government ministries is very important to us at SOIL, so we knew that we wanted to get BNEE’s approval of our waste treatment operations.  

In November 2019, SOIL began connecting with BNEE about our interest in getting their certified approval for our waste treatment site in Northern Haiti. BNEE suggested they come visit our site in Mouchinette and meet with a few compost clients to evaluate our environmental impacts, in addition to an Environmental Impact Assessment that was performed by SOIL’s MDE-approved consultant, Julie Jeliazovski. However, due to insecurity in Port-au-Prince, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the audit date was repeatedly rescheduled, until we were finally able to make it happen the first week of October 2020.  

The environmental audit was a success and the BNEE team was impressed by our composting waste treatment  site operations and moved by the testimonies of the compost customers they met. During this audit we were able to gather feedback from some of our compost clients who are using Konpòs Lakay for their agricultural production. One customer, who produces coffee plants in the mountains south of Trou du Nord, noted that “before using Konpòs Lakay, 3 months of drought would destroy his plants for the year, and it would be a massive loss.” But, since using SOIL’s Konpòs Lakay, the plants have been able to survive drought for much longer periods of time. At the time of the visit, it hadn’t rained for over 7 months, yet he was still able to do a first harvest and ensure next year’s planting season, with more beans still growing on the plants!                  

In the end, we were pleased to finally be approved by BNEE, and after a succession of government changes, political unrest, more COVID-19 delays and more political unrest that delayed the paperwork after the audit, we finally received the formal certificate almost a year later!  We’re proud to do this critical work in Haiti and showcase the enormous potential for innovative and positive environmental impact. The SOIL team is thrilled at the progress we have made over our 15 years in operation, and we’re looking forward to continued environmental impact. We are committed to transforming the sanitation crisis in Haiti, restoring ecosystems, and improving livelihoods alongside government agencies, local community leaders and our incredible SOIL family!

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