When a Little Education Goes a Long Way

Concern, an international humanitarian relief organization, recently contracted SOIL to lead a training session for families in La Gonave using Concern EcoSan toilets.

La Gonave is a small island off the coast of Port-au-Prince, and in the wake of the cholera epidemic that swept the nation after the 2010 earthquake, Concern built over 380 household EcoSan toilets for families there. Because it was an emergency response, there was little opportunity for community education, leaving many families in doubt as to how to properly use and maintain their new toilets. Without the training on how to use composting cover material, safely remove waste, and other important procedures for properly using and maintaining the toilets, families soon abandoned them, or turned them into trash receptacles or storage sheds.

Unfortunately, this is frequently the case with emergency sanitation programs in Haiti – well-meaning projects falter due to lack of education and on-going support. This is one of the reasons that SOIL places such a high emphasis on community outreach, and why Concern turned to SOIL for help.

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Jean-Marie talks compost with some of the workshop participants

SOIL responded to Concerns’ request by sending Baudeler “Bobo” Magloire and Jean-Marie Noel  to meet with a group of toilet beneficiaries, local sanitation officials, and Concern staff in La Gonave. Bobo, our Port-au-Prince Director of Sanitation, taught participants the basics of EcoSan toilet use and maintenance, as well as how to rehabilitate toilets that had fallen into disrepair. Next, Jean-Marie, Director of Agriculture, reviewed the basics of compost use. Participants were particularly interested in the benefits of using compost when planting fruit trees, which are a great resource for both their family’s table and for the environment.

All agreed that the workshop was a resounding success, but with over 380 toilets built on the island, SOIL still has a lot more outreach to do in La Gonave. We’re thrilled to have such a great start in our partnership with Concern on this important project, and we’re proud to work together for affordable, safer, and more sustainable sanitation in Haiti.

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