SOILHaiti 22 April 2024

Grinder Update: SOIL’s Journey to Expanding Sanitation in Haiti


SOIL's new bonzodè grinder at work at our site in TiLary

As many of our readers are aware, a recent SOIL fundraising effort was driven by the need to produce more bonzodè. Bonzodè plays a crucial role in our sanitation service, serving as the "flush" in our EkoLakay, EkoMobil, and EkoMache toilets. The launch of our Results-based Financing Contract this past fall has allowed us to quickly expand our customer base (to 900 additional households by the end of the year) so it has been critical for us to increase our bonzodé production and ensure our equipment has the production capacity to support continued growth. 

Recognizing the limitations of shorter-term solutions like mixing sugar cane bagasse with other dry materials or sourcing it from other locations, we knew we needed a long-term fix to satisfy our growing clientele. Enter Rich Flammer, SOIL Advisory Board member and seasoned composting expert with over three decades of experience. With Flammer's invaluable guidance, we set out to identify the ideal grinder to support our operations.

Orange Grinder

Our quest led us to the Roto Grind, produced by Burrows Enterprises in Colorado. This grinder is powered by a tractor and is designed for durability and simplicity while also able to handle a variety of inputs, aligning well with SOIL’s criteria. Initial tests showed the need for additional support and potential modifications to meet our needs, so we reached out to the manufacturer for assistance and to our delight, Jesse Burrows of Burrows Enterprises and a dedicated Rotogrind representative, was dispatched and traveled to Haiti to help provide assistance.

Jesse's arrival to our TiLary site marked a pivotal moment in our endeavor to increase bonzodé production. Collaborating closely with our team, Jesse pinpointed areas for improvement and implemented the necessary modifications. Within days, our grinder's efficiency skyrocketed, surpassing expectations and paving the way for unprecedented growth. Our output went from six cubic meters to more than twenty cubic meters per day! What was once a daunting constraint on expansion of the EkoLakay service is now a distant memory. Though the two-step production process still requires sieving, the silverlining is that the additional labor needed allows us to create employment opportunities for the local community. 

Man on Tractor

Our team is currently undertaking the reorganization of our office's hanger to optimize storage space for the cover material. This strategic effort is essential to ensure that we can stockpile enough material to sustain our operations for multiple weeks, aligning with our mission to provide uninterrupted sanitation services to the communities we serve. This foresight is particularly important now, as Haitians continue to face unprecedented challenges.

Reflecting on his time in Haiti, Jesse shared, "It was a neat experience…SOIL came up with a solution to offer indoor toilets and a system that works well. I even got to see the compost site." Jesse added, "This was my first time visiting Haiti and the thing that will always stick with me is the politeness I experienced and how accommodating everyone was." Jesse was particularly inspired to observe how "everybody finds a way" in Haiti, a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of the members of the community. 

Loading grinder with green tractor

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Rotogrind for their continued support of SOIL’s work and efforts. Their commitment to going above and beyond in terms of customer service has been instrumental in our progress. As we press forward, SOIL remains steadfast in our mission to transform waste into valuable resources, leaving a positive impact on the communities we serve.

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