Training a New Generation of Sanitation Researchers

SOIL intern, Wenley Moïse, extracting samples from the liquid filters installed underneath SOIL’s composting bins to take to the lab for testing.

SOIL loves providing opportunities for students in Haiti to work with our team and gain valuable hands-on experience in the sanitation sector to help jumpstart their careers. Over the past six months, SOIL research partner Dr. Rebecca Ryals has been conducting a study on optimal composting conditions at our waste treatment facilities. The study looks at whether

using different lining materials (concrete vs. a natural soil lining) in the composting bins impacts the leaching of nutrients or pathogens into the soil underneath the bins.

To support the process of collecting this critical data at SOIL’s Port-au-Prince composting facility, we hired a wonderful new research intern named Wenley Moïse! Wenley told us about his experience working with SOIL and shared a few updates from the ongoing experiments.

About Wenley and his Work

Wenley is a recent agronomy graduate who grew up in Cité Soleil and is currently in the process of writing his thesis. He came to SOIL with experience from working on agricultural projects with one of SOIL’s partners and has been working with SOIL since August of this year on SOIL’s optimal composting conditions study.  As a part of his internship, he visits our waste treatment facility once a week to take samples from the liquid filters that are installed underneath the compost bins. He extracts the liquid contents and takes them to one of the labs SOIL works with in the capital city where they are analyzed the same day for pathogens.

I have known SOIL for a long time, and I have always wanted to be involved in the work [SOIL] does in Haiti,” shared Wenley. “By working with SOIL, I can use my training as an agronomist to be of service to society.

We are very thankful for Wenley’s dedication because despite the unrest in Haiti, he has continuously found a safe way to make it to our Port-au-Prince office to ensure the data was logged and that the research was not interrupted.

Promising Results from Cap-Haïtien

As a part of the same research project, data collection from SOIL’s Cap-Haïtien composting site have concluded and the results show that having compost bins without concrete lining did not affect the groundwater! However, it is still crucial to get the full results from our Port-au-Prince facility, because the results may vary across different types of soil.

If the results are the same at the Port-au-Prince site, we’ll be able to present our findings to Haiti’s Sanitation Authority and the Haitian Ministry of Environment about the possibility of not using concrete foundations in our composting bins. Ultimately the benefit of this would be that SOIL would be able to build all new bins without the concrete lining, reducing treatment durations, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and saving on construction costs for future growth.

What’s Next?

Wenley will continue to play a critical supportive role in this research by collecting data through February, and then Dr. Ryals and her research team will analyze all the data and compare the results with those from Cap-Haïtien. Wenley shared with his colleague Julie in a recent conversation that he hopes that “SOIL will keep growing every day so they can provide more opportunities to the young people like me, so they can get good experience to start their career.” Here’s to that!

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2 Replies to "Training a New Generation of Sanitation Researchers"

  • Terry Wright
    January 2, 2020 (8:54 pm)

    from the above article, “…having compost bins without concrete lining did not affect the groundwater.”.

    Was this leachate tested for nutrients, pH, TSS, etc.? If so, would the results be available?

    • SOIL Haiti
      January 6, 2020 (7:27 pm)

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks for reading the SOIL blog! Our research partners are still in the process of collecting more data and samples. After Dr. Ryals analyzes all the data we are excited to share the full paper with comprehensive results from SOIL’s compost sites.

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