Fired Bricks Making
Traditionally, houses in Northern Tanzania consist of huts built from mud with thatched roofs, which often need to be repaired or even rebuilt after heavy rains or minor earth tremors. Brick built houses offer a much more durable, comfortable and clean living space, but firing bricks using the traditional fuel of wood is neither environmentally advisable nor sustainable. MRHP have developed a method of firing bricks with sustainable fuels, so that everyone can make their own bricks at a very low cost, using environmentally friendly methods, and build themselves a more durable house.
But brick alone will not improve housing and living standards. MRHP defines an improved house as one with:
· a strong and durable foundation, with a hardened soil or cement floor
· walls built with fired bricks or adobe blocks with a strong and attractive plaster
· a good roof with iron sheets, tiles or well thatched grass
· an improved environment with ample ventilation inside the house
· a pleasant clean environment outside
Each of these issues is addressed by MRHP through innovative, well tested methods, using low cost, durable materials.
From its start MRHP has proposed and supported small improvements to existing housing types and materials, while respecting the cultural preferences of rural and urban communities.
The Mwanza region is endowed with large volumes of clay, of an ideal quality for brick making. This can be moulded into shape and left to dry in the sun, but the resulting bricks, known as adobe blocks, are not very durable and buildings constructed with this material have a very short life. Clay needs to be fired at very high temperatures over a number of days, requiring a large quantity of fuel, to make it hard, waterproof and robust.
MRHP has pioneered the use of waste agricultural residues such as rice husks and cotton waste as fuel for firing bricks, and has disseminated this information throughout the region. The majority of bricks used in residential building in the area are now fired in small, local kilns using these easily obtainable materials, and the information about this technology has been disseminated through MRHP’s capacity building community links.
As well as helping people to build themselves, good quality houses, the skills required in sustainable brick making have allowed entrepreneurs to set up small income generating, environmentally sustainable businesses as local brick makers.