Tanzania Update 2017

The initiative has taken on a new, and improved, form over the past months. Still focused on post-earthquake home reconstruction, we are now working to introduce a new building material and new, earthquake-resistant house designs. This material, called HI CSEB (Hollow Interlocking Compressed Stabilized Earth Block) is manufactured by smallholders themselves from local soils. The attendant disaster resistant house designs have been developed by the Auroville Earth Institute in Sri Lanka. Material and design have been used extensively and successfully in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Iran in both earthquake and tsunami zones, but are not known in Eastern Africa.

Rather than trying to raise a huge sum of money for a general reconstruction program (which has proven challenging), the plan is to work with the Kolping Society of Tanzania – the KST – (with which I have worked for 10 years on successful smallholder agronomic projects) to introduce these new building materials and designs to farmers in NW Tanzania with the objective of transforming local building standards in a cost-effective way.

The KST operates a trade school that teaches, inter alia, masonry and house construction. We will:

  • purchase one HI CSEB making machine for +- $5k,
  • send two instructors to courses in HI CSEB manufacture and earthquake resistant house design / construction,
  • construct two model homes at the trade school (seeing is believing)
  • bring this new technology to smallholders in nearby villages helping them to begin using this construction technique which should allow them to build sturdy, EQ resistant homes at a cost similar to current fired brick methods.
  • The KST will assume long term management and mentoring for the initiative.

We have raised $5k and the foregoing plan requires $30k. Fundraising efforts continue and we have submitted the project to an international environmental competition being held by a Dutch firm called What Design Can Do. The environmental aspect of the initiative is that HI CSEB manufacture emits significantly less CO2 than either concrete block or fired brick manufacture. Furthermore, fired brick, as the name implies, requires large volumes of wood, contributing to deforestation in East Africa