Our Compost Climate Connections webinar series features the crucial role of compost in mitigating and building resilience to climate change.
For over a decade, SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) has been incubating climate-positive sanitation solutions in frontline communities across Haiti that have been intentionally designed to mitigate the environmental impacts of poor waste management and offer a restorative alternative to traditional sanitation practices. By harvesting the nutrients in human waste, SOIL is protecting vulnerable aquatic ecosystems and groundwater sources while simultaneously restoring soil fertility, improving the viability of reforestation efforts, helping farmers grow more food, and sequestering carbon. View the recording below!
On this webinar, Dr. Sasha Kramer, Executive Director of SOIL, discussed how SOIL expands access to household sanitation services and transforms the waste they collect into rich, agricultural-grade compost. She talked about how taking a circular economy approach to sanitation can yield a sanitation service that is lower cost, requires less water, produces less greenhouse gas emissions and results in a compost byproduct that is restoring soils and ecosystems in Haiti. SOIL is also working to create a revolutionary social business model and economic opportunities in some of the world’s most under-resourced communities.
She was joined by Dr. Rebecca Ryals, University of California at Merced, who shared the results of her newly published paper on the climate benefits of SOIL’s ecological sanitation services. Dr. Ryals has researched how to quantify the potential for ecological sanitation to combat climate change via three mechanisms: reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to alternative sanitation practices, offsetting synthetic fertilizer use, and sequestering carbon in soils through compost amendments. Results suggest that SOIL’s ecological sanitation technology emits 40-92% less greenhouse gas than traditional waste stabilization ponds, and that management improvements can further reduce emissions. The Ryals paper, co-authored by SOIL, found that a closed-loop ecological sanitation service model like SOIL’s in Haiti has the potential to capture an “enormous and largely untapped resource stream” and in doing so “contribute to global greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, improve the resiliency or agroecosystems, and advance sustainable development goals.”
This webinar is one in a series ILSR offers to advance composting. View our webinar resources here.
To learn more about ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative, click here.
Dr. Sasha Kramer
Co-founder and Executive Director, SOIL Haiti
Sasha 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 that same year. Sasha now serves as the Executive Director of SOIL. While Sasha spends the majority of her time living and working in Haiti, she is also a global advocate for urban sanitation access and the recycling of nutrients in human waste. Her work with her colleagues at SOIL has earned recognition as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, an Architect of the Future with the Waldzell Institute, an Ashoka Fellow, a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the recipient of the Sarphati Sanitation Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
SOIL is a non-profit research and development organization working in Haiti since 2006 to expand sustainable access to ecological sanitation services. Learn more at www.oursoil.org or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SOILHaiti.
Dr. Rebecca Ryals
Assistant Professor, University of California Merced
Dr. Rebecca Ryals is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology in the School of Natural Sciences’ Life and Environmental Sciences Unit at the University of California, Merced. She has studied how nutrients and carbon move into, within, and out of ecosystems. Her specialities include agriculture, ecosystem ecology, soil health, ecological sanitation, soil carbon and nitrogen cycling, greenhouse gas dynamics, compost, and grazing systems. She applies ecosystem science to research solutions to some of today’s most challenging problems, including climate change, sanitation, nutrient pollution, and food production. Before joining the staff of the University of California, Dr. Ryals was an assistant professor at the University of Hawai’i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. She has authored numerous research papers and has been part of the research team at the Marin Carbon Project. For more than 5 years, she has collaborated with SOIL in Haiti to improve approaches to composting human waste. The composting of human waste and its use as an agricultural soil amendment can tackle three important challenges – providing improved sanitation for vulnerable communities, reducing the spread of intestinal-borne pathogens, and returning nutrients and organic matter to agricultural soils. Her research seeks to quantify these benefits and potential trade-offs.