Lysimeters Determine If Human Waste Composting Can Be More Efficient (Part 2)
In Haiti, untreated human waste contaminating urban areas and water sources has led to widespread waterborne illness.
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) has been working to turn human waste into a resource for nutrient management by turning solid waste into compost. (See part 1).
The organization plans on performing experiments with lysimeters, to determine if human waste will contaminate Haitian soil during the composting process.
Lysimeters Help Assess Health Hazards
SOIL will use passive capillary lysimeters in an upcoming experiment to determine if composting human waste without a barrier between the waste and the soil will result in ecological and/or health hazards. Why? The problem is “jikaka,” or “poo juice.” The compost facility currently redistributes it onto the compost and finishing piles, but they would rather not have to manage it. They believe if they remove the concrete slab and allow composting to occur in contact with soil, the composting process will be easier and faster.
The organization will test their idea as they expand their facility. New compost bins and staging areas for finishing have been built absent concrete pads. Passive capillary lysimeters have been installed, three beneath the compost bin, and four beneath the first staging area for finishing. They will be used to monitor the amount of moisture (jikaka) that travels through the soil as well as check for anything harmful that travels with it.
What’s the Future for Konpòs Lakay?
SOIL’s agricultural team studies the use of their compost (Konpòs Lakay) in order to optimize farming practices and the economic benefits of targeted compost application. The data they collect will help them expand the market for Konpòs Lakay, which in turn will support the sustainability of SOIL’s sanitation programs.
For more information on SOIL’s waste treatment efforts, visit their website, or watch the video below, a TEDx talk given by SOIL co-founder, Sasha Kramer.
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