World Toilet Day: Valuing Container-based Sanitation
SOIL team installing EkoLakay toilet for client in Cap-Haitien.
In celebration of World Toilet Day, we wanted to dive into this year’s theme: Valuing Toilets, and take a look at how container-based toilets can play a catalytic role in expanding access to sanitation and the myriad of positive benefits they can bring to a community. SOIL launched the first container-based toilet in 2006 in Haiti, and since then a number of organizations around the world have launched their own container-based toilet services to address the lack of access to improved sanitation and meet the needs of vulnerable populations.
What is container-based sanitation?
Container-based sanitation (CBS) utilizes standalone toilets that store waste in sealable, removable containers. SOIL’s service provides household toilets, with weekly door-to-door waste collection service. The full containers are replaced with empty ones and the collected containers are then transported to our waste treatment facility for safe treatment and transformation into compost.
When we began our work in Haiti fifteen years ago, we were committed to designing a sanitation solution that was sustainable, scalable and fit the local context. Haiti’s lack of waste treatment infrastructure, combined with an enormous need to find a solution that could serve densely populated, informal, and flood-prone communities meant that traditional waste treatment options like pit latrines and septic systems are often unsuitable and environmentally hazardous. SOIL’s EkoLakay toilets further meet the need of impoverished households through affordable service, as well as households that do not have access to a water source (for septic systems) or municipal-level sanitation infrastructure, which is non-existent in Haiti.
Globally, both individuals and government entities can be reluctant or unable to invest in costly sanitation infrastructure in informal urban settlements with contested land tenure, but CBS toilets require no such up-front investments, typically only a monthly rental service fee. In addition, many of these communities exist on land that is undesirable for formal development, in large part because it is prone to flooding. CBS toilets have been intentionally designed for these environments, to mitigate the potential contamination risk during high-flood events through sealable containers.
Finally, container- based sanitation services offer an opportunity to establish sanitation infrastructure by using a market-based approach to foster a model for private business replication and job creation.
Reaching more people with safe sanitation
As the population of urban slums around the world continues to grow, so does the risk of public health catastrophes associated with poor sanitation. CBS can play a significant role in communities like those we serve in Haiti, that do not have access to conventional household toilets or sewage systems.
In 2013 SOIL helped co-found the Container-Based Sanitation Alliance (CBSA), a coalition of service providers around the world working together to extend our collective impact – getting more toilets to more families through knowledge-sharing, partnerships, research, and other collaborative initiatives. It is through these partnerships and the sharing of information and knowledge that we hope to reach more communities around the globe. SOIL is currently providing over 8,700 people in Haiti with access to safe sanitation through our EkoLakay container-based sanitation (CBS) service. CBS services like SOIL’s are critical in the struggle to expand citywide sanitation, achieve SDG6, and find solutions to the sanitation crisis so that people may live life to the fullest potential.
SOIL depends on individual donations from people like you to fund our lifesaving, earth-restoring sanitation services in Haiti. Please consider supporting SOIL today.
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