Turning Human Waste To Energy In Northern Haiti

Turning Human Waste To Energy In Northern Haiti

Project Summary
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Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Using profits from municipal scale biogas generation to restart human waste collection in the city of Cap Haitian Haiti.

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Policies distort pricing, lower profits & lead to misuse of water & waste

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Value-added services mean added business income

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Using profits from municipal scale biogas generation to restart human waste collection in the city of Cap Haitian Haiti.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

KVIC municipal biogas systems have been used by many organizations and municipalities to provide waste treatment options and adjust to all scales, from digestors used in single neighborhoods to large arrays of digestors used for small municipalities. In the city of Cap Haitien in the sanitation situation presents a dire problem, collection from an existing public latrine network has essentially stopped and in some neighborhoods 80% of the existing public infrastructure is overflowing. Most latrines are emptied by hand for 180USD-240US. Human waste buckets are emptied into open canals that flow to the ocean and offgas methane. The few large sump truck operators that empty for the UN and other large institutions dump into mangrove swamps. Water testing at most local pumps shows heavy fecal coliform contamination. AIDG sees an opportunity to incubate a Haitian S.A. that uses KVIC style digestors and funding from both sale of energy production and carbon offset funding to subsidize waste collection, processing, and restoration of existing latrine infrastructures.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

The AIDG is working to secure a 60 acre municipal waste treatment site just south of Cap Haitien where we would help the incubated Haitian S.A. establish an initial array of 6 KVIC reactors that could be expanded upon securing carbon credit funding or though incremental sales of gas. We would begin a small waste collection operation of 100 public latrines using modern pumping techniques to get a price point below 100USD per emptying. A $5000 changemaker award would create 2 digestors.

How do you plan to expand your innovation?

The core expansion funding for this project relies on the use of carbon offset funding for methane capture. Currently waste from open canals used as public bathrooms and unemptied public latrines off gasses methane, which has an impact 23 times that of CO2 on climate change. Establishing a proven methane offset for this type of project should provide significant resources for expansion both within the city and to other regions in Haiti. Additionally the modular nature of the KVIC processor design will allow for single site expansion in an incremental fashion from local sales without significant external capital investment.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

In Haiti AIDG is working closely with the office of the Mayor of Milot, the municipality directly south of Cap Haitian, which is offering a 60 acre parcel of land to be portioned in long term leases as a municipal waste treatment site. We are also partnering with the local composting toilet provider SOIL which will be setting up a municipal compost site leased on the same municipal site and will be taking the effluent from the initial digestors. We are also working on partnerships with MSPP and the environmental ministry of the North of Haiti.

Our US partnership includes several US based university and technical advisers at MIT, Berkeley, Michigan Tech and other universities that work with us on providing technical training to our incubated enterprises. Included in these advisors are individuals with significant experience in municipal biogas in India and Bangledesh.

Xelateco, will also be working with us on technology adaptation testing. We are hoping to establish technical transfer with biogas companies in India.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

AIDG hopes to incubate an economically sustainable business to create energy, reduce methane emissions, and collect human waste in a reproducible fashion in Haiti.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

The barriers are truly innumerable, but include a slow centralized governmental approval process, AIDG's limited organizational capital as a start-up NGO, social and political instability in Haiti, the high demand for the small skilled labor force in Cap Haitian, extended training periods for currently unskilled workers, local barriers to import and export, corruption, banditry, graft. But AIDG's mission involves taking investment risks most traditional lenders wouldn't to try and get services out to people who need them. We work to mitigate those risks by helping our incubated organizations wade through the operational morass that kills so many small enterprises in developing countries. Giving them the skills and contacts they need to survive.

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

AIDG plans to recondition and begin regular service to 100 public latrines serving a minimum of 100 people per latrine. So throughout the metro Cap Haitian region hopes to serve a minimum of 10,000 people. The modularity of the KVIC reactor arrays allows for the capability to expand both processing capacity at the Cap location and in easy small replication to other regions in the North of Haiti. To date AIDG has served over 600 people in Cap Haitian with public composting latrines as training exercises for the masons who will work on the biogas plant. In Guatemala AIDG's incubated enterprise Xelateco has served 3 villages with hydro-electric installations (91 KW installed capacity), and thousands of people with stoves, biogas, water, and solar technologies.


Eventually we hope the S.A. will have the capabilities to serve directly multiple municipalities throughout the North of Haiti. The lack of existing companies in waste processing, and a limited number of companies in waste collection in the North of Haiti leaves a comparatively open market if the technical transfer is successful and a profitable business model can be demonstrated. A single enterprise with the right technical experience could provide a much needed service for many towns and cities in the region.


AIDG hopes that this enterprise will be able to serve as a model for appropriate and accessible municipal sanitation in regions with limited means. We believe that by establishing some solid Carbon Offset metrics for municipal scale human waste situations this project can open the doors to a steady stream of funding to other organizations and companies seeking to replicate this model in other regions. In the same way the studies behind the gold standard metrics for small digesters have paved the way for small farm digester funding. Perhaps eventually this could impact the lives of a few hundred thousand to a million people worldwide

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

This project will require some detailed metrics and analysis of methane capture, production and sewage processing, to be able to track the impact of methane sequestration for Carbon Credit funding. AIDG will be bringing down multiple university teams and other NGOs to help us establish exact numbers of people with renewed access to sanitation and exact volumes of waste processed. And the amount of improper sewage disposal we are displacing.

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation, if so please describe?

If AIDG can establish an entity with a solid track record for waste processing in the North of Haiti we will seek to work with local governments to enforce existing standards on waste collection and treatment. Since currently everything goes directly to the sea and there are no processing stations to dump waste even for existing collection entities we hope to help enforcement by giving existing sewage collectors an environmentally sound processing option. Enforcement is much easier when people have a place to dump.

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Private citizens in the north of Haiti without access to proper sanitation, individuals and enterprises near the site benefiting from access to the gas, the entrepreneurs and technicians who will receive training and capital from AIDG.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

The AIDG works through a model of business incubation that involves a first round loan set of 50-75 thousand USD at a 0-4% interest rate, technical training, an initial materials and equipment grant of 25,000-50,000 USD and aid in accessing further expansion funding rounds through AIDG at a higher interest rate or other institutions after several years of proven results.

In the case of the Haitian Biogas enterprise we are aiming for a 60,000 dollar loan given in 4 stages of 15,000 at rates up to %4 , and a 30,000 USD equipment and facilities grant. The sustainable financing will come from latrine emptying contracts and gas sales that we calculate at an estimated 95,000 USD a year within 3 years.

Provide information on your finances and organization:

AIDG had a revenue streams of roughly 50,000 USD in 2005, 100,000 in 2006 and 250,000 in 2007. Currently AIDG is aiming for a 600,000 USD revenue stream mainly in grants and donations on a 400,000 USD budget. To date AIDG has raised 89,000 USD in 2008. AIDG will have 75,000 USD of earned income in a research and development and educational services in 2008 with 35,000 USD from an existing contract.

AIDG's first incubated enterprise in Guatemala Xelateco has earned roughly 30,000 USD in 2008 with an additional 35,000 USD in contracted receivables and an anticipated 80,000USD in additional revenue before the close of FY 2008. AIDG will have only 3000USD receivable as loan repayment from Xelateco in 2008 as it does not finish its incubation period and begin loan repayment until Q3 2008.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Ultimately we see a global demand if the offset financing mechanisms can be well established. We expect the S.A. to grow to serve many municipalities in the north of Haiti with a staff of between 75 and 100.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

General economic dysfunction in the north of Haiti provide many operational barriers that affect financial sustainability, rapid vehicle degradation, capability to pay for services, equipment theft. But we believe our price points will work in the local markets and that carbon offset funding will stabilize any internal economic uncertainties.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

There really is one moment that solidified the need for AIDG and inspires the Haiti initiative. I was in Cuba and I visited two small pig farms just outside of Havana. One farm had a biodigester for treating the pig excrement that had been installed by a nephew of the owner. It supplied methane gas for lighting, a stove and a gas-fired hot water heater. In addition, the fertilizer generated from the biodigester bolstered the agricultural productivity of the farm. Overall, the farm lacked the typical odor associated with pig farming operations and had a clean well. The kitchen inside was spotless, thanks in part to the biogas stove, and the house was cool and shaded by trees.

The other farm presented the most direct contrast one could imagine. The place was a sanitation nightmare, pig excrement was everywhere and was contaminating the nearby stream. The kitchen was filled with black smoke from inefficient wood fires, for which they had cleared all the surrounding trees. Without the tree cover the house baked in the sun. To light the house at night, the farmer was paying for kerosene. Unfortunately the second farmer had no recourse to buy a biodigester if he wanted one. There were no biodigester businesses selling and repairing them the way there were tractor or well-digging businesses. After working with biogas at Xelateco, our first energy business in Guatemala, and starting work Haiti it became clear the opportunities for a large Biogas business in Haiti.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Peter received a B.A. in 1998 from Yale University. He was named one of Echoing Green's Social Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2006. He is a regular panelist on BOP issues at Harvard, Yale, MIT, BU and other universities. His work with AIDG has been featured in Fast Company, Salon.com, and NPR. Before founding AIDG he worked both in the information technology field and on a sustainable organic farm doing infrastructure improvement work.