Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a non-profit organization in Haiti that promotes dignity, health and livelihoods through the transformation of wastes to resources. SOIL is dedicated to protecting soil resources by providing ecological sanitation services and turning human waste into nutrient-rich compost.
Focus: Sanitation, Environment, Agriculture, Health and Livelihoods
Geographic Area of Impact: Haiti
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 24,000 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD $ 1 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 1% (2013)
Lack of access to sanitation is a widespread problem with life-threatening implications. Over two thirds of the world's population lacks access to a toilet and, as a result, waterborne disease is one of the leading causes of death among children under five in developing countries. While aquatic ecosystems become increasingly polluted with nutrients from human waste, the Earth’s soils exhibit rapidly declining fertility, reducing agricultural production, and leading to poverty and malnutrition. Nowhere is this cycle of poor sanitation, environmental degradation, and poverty more evident than in Haiti, where about 80% of the population lacks access to a sanitary toilet and soil fertility has declined 20% in the last decade.
Innovation and Activities
SOIL promotes dignity, health, and sustainable livelihoods through the transformation of wastes into resources. In support of this mission, SOIL primarily focuses on promoting the community-identified priority of ecological sanitation (EcoSan), a process by which human wastes are converted into valuable compost. EcoSan simultaneously tackles some of Haiti’s toughest challenges by providing sanitation to people who would otherwise have no access to a toilet and producing an endless supply of rich, organic compost critical for agriculture and reforestation.
Working with communities to design and test ecologically and socially beneficial solutions, SOIL implements low-cost technologies that are simple, easy to replicate, require minimal water, and provide safe and dignified access to sanitation.
SOIL is currently developing and implementing a transformative new social business model for the economically sustainable provision of household sanitation services and ecological waste treatment in Haiti. The world is experiencing a global sanitation crisis and the majority of available sanitation technologies have prohibitively high start-up costs, are dependent on scarce water resources, and are financially unsustainable. In SOIL’s simple social business design, wastes from ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets are collected and transported to a composting waste treatment facility where the waste is safely transformed into rich, agricultural-grade compost. This compost is then sold for agricultural application, improving both the fertility and water retention of soil. Revenue from monthly toilet user fees, waste treatment fees, and compost sales are collected to support ongoing project costs and to showcase the private sector potential to affordably and sustainably provide sanitation services in the world’s most impoverished and water-scarce communities.
Dr. Sasha Kramer is an ecologist and human rights advocate who has been living and working in Haiti since
2004. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology from Stanford University in 2006 and co-founded SOIL the same year. Sasha is an Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami. She is also a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and an Architect of the Future with the Waldzell Institute.
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