Project Lead(s): Sasha Kramer
There are still 2.5 billion people without access to safe toilets.
Even when people do have access to a toilet, most human waste in developing countries is dumped directly into waterways or emptied into pits that contaminate groundwater.
Implemented in Haiti, the objective of the SOIL project was to develop a sustainable business model for providing sanitation to Haiti’s urban slums.
SOIL’s idea was to develop ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets that produce compost as a by-product of the waste treatment process. The low-cost toilets can be subsidized by compost sales, thereby keeping user fees affordable and inspiring entrepreneurs to replicate the project around Haiti and internationally.
In order to sustainably cover the cost of toilet maintenance and waste collection, toilet customers paid a monthly toilet user fee of about $5 US per toilet.
At the close of this project in October 2013, cost-saving innovations had brought the cost of the toilet to under $50 US, which could be easily paid off over several years as part of a monthly payment plan.
By October 2013, the pilot project had reached 2,655 people who were accessing one of 200 SOIL toilets.
User surveys showed a high level of satisfaction and a desire to continue with the paid service.
Early cost and income projections from this pilot project also showed that the toilet maintenance and waste collection operation could be profitably covered by toilet user fees at a break-even point of 500 toilets.
By the conclusion of this pilot project in October 2013, SOIL’s waste treatment sites were treating and transforming more than 20,000 gallons of human waste per month and the low-cost system was estimated to cost less than $3 per person per month. Also, by October 2013, SOIL had sold 70,000+ gallons of compost to individuals, companies and organizations around Haiti.
Market demand for the compost creates the potential for the private sector to play a significant role in supporting demand-driven sustainable sanitation.
Compost sale revenue and waste treatment fees have the potential to recover a significant percentage of overall costs for waste treatment in the long term, making composting one of the most cost-effective methods of treating human waste.
The project has been scaled through Grand Challenges Canada, with bridge funding of $400,000 CAD. Additionally, SOIL is continuing their work through a repayable grant agreement in the amount of $600,000 CAD. This will bring the total number of toilets available to 1,500, which will provide over 8,250 people with dignified, affordable access to in-home sanitation.
Additionally, SOIL’s partnership with Grand Challenges Canada has inspired other funders to support the development of SOIL’s sanitation social business model, including the Clinton Foundation, the Swedish Postcode Foundation, the American Red Cross and the 11th Hour Project.