SOIL's EcoSan Toilet Design Goes Global

Last year, Daniel Tillias, the director of our dear partner organization, Pax Christi Ayiti, said “It is my vision that Haiti will have too many SOIL toilets producing fertilizer and we’ll have to start exporting them to the Dominican Republic and to all the other countries of the world”. Today we’re proud to announce that Daniel’s vision is starting to come true as the latest edition of Hesperian‘s “Where There Is No Doctor” manual features SOIL and our new composting toilet model.

“Where There Is No Doctor” is “the most widely-used health care manual for health workers, educators, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs around the world” and Hesperian’s guides are available in 80 languages and in 221 countries and territories, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Here are some choice excerpts from the sanitation chapter of the new “Where There is No Doctor”:

“Poor sanitation causes a great deal of unnecessary sickness and death.”

“Any community effort to improve sanitation must help people overcome the challenges they face in their daily lives. Poverty and lack of access to enough water often make it difficult for people to improve sanitation.Experts may offer technical solutions, such as flush toilets or complex sewage treatment systems. These kinds of technical solutions may work in some places, but that does not mean they will solve the problems of your community or that people will use them.”

“A lot of people in a small area means a lot of human waste, and often a lot of sickness caused by germs from human waste.”

Man going to the toilet, Hesperian

“A group in Haiti called Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) works in urban communities to transform wastes into resources. SOIL has developed a program that (for a small fee) rents out toilets like the one above to families, and collects the waste from each home every week. The waste is transported to a site where it is turned into valuable compost which is then sold or used to grow food.

Much of SOIL’s work is educating people about the safety of composting toilets. One of the best ways they do this is to show the final product from the toilets. Once people see for themselves that what was once human waste has now become nutrient-rich compost, they soon become excited to transform something that was making them sick into a resource that helps them and their environment.”

A huge thank you to our friends at Hesperian for helping us get these important sanitation messages out!


4 Replies to "SOIL's EcoSan Toilet Design Goes Global"

  • Cale Rogoyski
    March 26, 2012 (3:16 am)

    What are some of the educational techniques that you guys are using to create “buy-in” amongst the potential users of the EcoSan toilet?

    • Leah Page
      March 26, 2012 (1:58 pm)

      Hi Cale. We spend a LOT of time thinking about this very topic, so thank you for bringing it up! The first thing that we do is make sure all the people building and installing toilets understand EcoSan and are prepared to answer questions about it. (Here’s a blog post about SOIL’s EcoSan training seminars.) The next thing that we do is hold a “toilet inauguration” whenever we open a toilet in a new community. This event is billed as an enjoyable party (we often find a Haitian musician to put on a free concert) that we use as a platform for talking about EcoSan and doing an educational activity we have called “The 11 Steps”. The 11 Steps are the 11 things that people need to know in order to use an EcoSan toilet – starting with opening the toilet seat and ending with hand washing. We often turn The 11 Steps into a competition to see who can remember them best. (There is a fun picture of a toilet inauguration on our “Toilets” page, but I think we should have a blog post about the 11 steps coming soon…).

      The quick summary of all this, is that we believe our educational campaigns have worked. SOIL toilets are very well received by the people using them and they are a hotly requested service around Haiti. Also, most significantly, our first EcoSan-generated compost customers were community organizations based in the neighborhoods using SOIL toilets. They knew they were producing a good thing!

  • Hector Black
    April 5, 2012 (12:49 am)

    Great to hear of your progress. Any news on when the composting toilets will be available for purchase, or the plan for making one? Thanks! Hector

    • Leah Page
      April 5, 2012 (12:38 pm)

      I like this question! I’ll run this by my colleagues to see what we can do. Thanks for your support.

Got something to say?

Some html is OK