Haiti has a major sanitation problem which was made even worse in 2010 when United Nations peacekeepers brought cholera to the country. Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is one group that’s addressing that problem by using dry toilets to make compost for farmers and the families who provide the material for composting (feces). Unfortunately, the other “sanitation” options in Haiti, like open defecation, are free. As IJDH Director Brian Concannon suggests, perhaps the UN could use some of the money it unnecessarily spends on peacekeeping missions to contribute to better sanitation in Haiti.
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In Haiti, Turning Human Waste to Flowers
One program has found a way to turn feces into agricultural compost. Can it help a country with a limited sanitation system?
Alexis K. Barnes, Medium
January 19, 2016
For 14 years, forty-year old Marline Jean did not have a toilet in her home. When she needed to relieve herself, she used one of the methods popular among toilet-less Cap-Haitien residents. Some days, when she was in a public setting, she would get to use a pit latrine, similar to one you may find at a campsite. Other times, she would find a quiet spot in a field. When she was running short on time, she’d use a “flying toilet,” meaning that she’d throw an excrement-filled plastic bag into ditches or trash piles.
Now, Jean climbs the wooden ladder to her concrete roof to find a porta-potty encased in blue plastic. Ten feet away, her vegetable garden is in full bloom, thanks to the minerals created from human compost. Jean’s toilet, like hundreds of others in the city, is part of a program that turns urine and feces safe for reuse as agricultural manure.
The use of human waste as compost may first give pause — but to Jean, it’s a minor miracle. “Everyone who comes here and goes to use the toilet always has a lot of questions about it,” she said. “Some don’t even believe that this is possible.”
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