Faeces processed to produce valuable fertiliser for crops and new forests – and eliminate source of disease
Isabeau Doucet in Port-au-Prince
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 March 2013
It’s a modern-day alchemy that is, on a small scale at least, helping Haitians turn something deadly into something valuable.
“If we can take all the poop that’s making people sick right now,” said Dr Sasha Kramer as she stuck a thermometer into a large mound of faecal waste in the middle of Troutier, Port-au-Prince’s city dump, “and turn it into this really valuable resource that could be used for reforestation or for increased agricultural production, then you really take a problem and turn it into a solution.”
Every week, Soil (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) collects the human waste from 56 dry toilets built in camps for displaced earthquake victims, and mixes it with chips of sugar cane bagasse, a byproduct of local rum production.
“It’s plenty hot,” said Kramer, pointing to the thermometer needle at 60C (140F). “Cholera would be dead in less than a second.”
Haiti is trying to fight what has exploded into the worst cholera epidemic in modern history, with 57% of global cholera cases last year concentrated on this tiny half-island. Cholera is an easily treatable, yet deadly, waterborne disease that spreads through faeces-infected water.