Emerging Explorer Sasha Kramer fights some of Haiti’s most pressing health, economic, and environmental problems, one toilet at a time.

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  • This video was filmed on Wednesday, June 22nd at the 2011 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    Sasha Kramer fights Haiti’s most pressing health, economic, and environmental problems, one toilet at a time. Driven by her conviction that sanitation is a basic human right, and the need for a simple, low-cost solution, Kramer turned to ecological sanitation. “Collecting, composting, and recycling human waste into fertilizer for agriculture simultaneously helps solve so many problems that result from extreme poverty: poor public health, low agricultural productivity, malnutrition, environmental degradation, and waterborne disease—the country’s leading cause of death in children under five."


    • Haitian History and perspective: agricultural production to malnourishment (start-01:53 min.)
    • Environmental destruction and post-colonial history (01:54-03:38 min.)
    • Human waste and a brown lip around Haiti (03:39-05:26 min.)
    • Poor sanitation: current examples, conditions and illnesses (05:27-06:44 min.)
    • Sewage treatment and the problem of mixing waste streams (06:45-08:47 min.)
    • Composting, ecological toilets and SOIL (08:48-10:20 min.)
    • How the SOIL toilet works and urine as "liquid gold" (10:20-11:31 min.)
    • The 2010 earthquake and a pilot project in Port-au-Prince (11:32-14:07 min.)
    • A "poop-mobile" and the composting process (14:08-15:51 min.)
    • Sustainable business, development and a household toilet model (15:52-16:36 min.)
    • Transforming waste into a resource, and solving environmental and health problems (16:37-17:21 min.)

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  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    agriculture Noun

    the art and science of cultivating the land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

    Encyclopedic Entry: agriculture
    cholera Noun

    infectious, sometimes fatal disease that harms the intestines.

    compost Noun

    mixture of decaying organic material, such as food waste and plants.

    ecology Noun

    branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Types of Ecology
    human waste Noun

    byproduct of human digestion - feces or urine.

    hygiene Noun

    science and methods of keeping clean and healthy.

    sanitation Noun

    promotion of hygiene, health, and cleanliness.

    waste Noun

    material that has been used and thrown away.

    water-borne Adjective

    transported or carried by water.