Eco-brick goes MUD!
Arusha, Tanzania
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Location:
Arusha, Tanzania
Category:
work & business
Phase:
design development
Updated:
7 August 2021
We want to address the severe effects of construction-led deforestation in semi-arid rural areas. Our project is the construction of an eco-cooperative promoting the use of Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks (CSEB) as a sustainable alternative building technique. Based in Tanzania, it will provide training, CSEB machines and financial support to the local community with the aim of eliminating the use of fired bricks and sustain local livelihoods.
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Introduction
Our team has been researching and working with Maji Moto community since 2016 on social, economic and environmental development issues. Due to the adverse outcome of desertification on the ecosystems and local communities, we have partnered with Enjetare, a local NGO, to open up access to alternative building techniques which are aligned with the objectives of mitigating climate change and which will be leading the ecological transition towards a more resilient future for rural communities. For that matter, we have built three community-led and sustainable public infrastructures which stand as an environmentally-responsible and affordable example of a building technique that can be easily replicated. In line with the positive response and engagement of the community, our team is now committed to translate these experiences into a practical capacity building model through the establishment of the cooperative. This will equip individuals with working knowledge of such a building technique and promote the creation of micro-entreprises. 

The construction of the workshop place will stand as the improved ultimate example of a building using CSEB technique and other locally-sourced building materials. It will provide the local cooperative members with a climate-proof, comfortable and useful working space while being a prototype for demonstrating the building technique’s efficiency and strength.
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Impact
The eco-cooperative is directed at community members willing to come together to engage in an activity with strong medium- to long-term social, economic and environmental prospects and impact. It targets more specifically 3 local groups: 1) Families whose incomes rely on the production of fired bricks and whose future job opportunities are threatened by the exhaustion of local resources; 2) young workers who have limited access to semi- and skilled jobs and 3) the women groups who are the most in need of qualifying and recognised training enabling them to earn a living. Through the eco-cooperative construction and economic model, these groups can collectively build capacity, gaining knowledge and practice on future-proof and sustainable construction techniques. As such, they are equipped with a skill set to create a business, get skilled employment as well as develop a competitive advantage working in an innovative and responsible market which can significantly improve their own and household standard of living across generations. It will also benefit the wider community by strengthening its resilience: by promoting the use of locally-sourced materials and workforce, it increases the circularity of local economies; with the explicit goal of mitigating the destruction of local ecosystems and protecting the environment, CSEBs can reinforce the environmental awareness of villagers; and  the progressive replacement of fired bricks with CSEB means that homes and other buildings are of high quality standard, more durable and affordable.
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Core team
The four core members are representative of a diversity of backgrounds and geographies. Laia (Spanish) and Nancy (Tanzanian) are trained architects. Msafiri (Maasai from Maji Moto) is a construction supervisor. All three met working with the community of Maji Moto. The fourth member, Cécile (French) has a background in economics, project management and reporting. She joined the team after working with Laia on academic projects at UCL. We all share a passion and commitment for nurturing more equitable, diverse and sustainable communities, with a particular attachment to Tanzania and its people. Our ethics of engagement is based on the recognition of local knowledge's strength and the full participation of communities in the project that concerns them. Our collaborative work is built on Laia’s PhD research on locally-sourced building materials and in-depth field work and community engagement activities. As we are aware of our own limitations, we welcome opportunities to partner with others to progress on our mission: we partner with Enjetare, a Tanzanian NGO, which use architecture to promote responsible building practices and materials as a tool to improve long-term socio-economic and environmental prospects; and with Un Refugio Colectivo which has been involved with the design and delivery of the building projects in Maji Moto using CSEB technique. It promotes projects that trigger social and environmental change through spatial interventions and using participatory-action research. 
https://www.facebook.com/EnjetareNGO/about
https://www.instagram.com/unrefugiocolectivo/
Nancy and Msafiri in 2016 during the design phase of the first project conducted in Maji Moto, the Women Meeting Centre, by Laia and Nancy.

image: Laia Garc´ía | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Image gallery
landscape of Maji Moto, with the visible effects of desertification.

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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the production of fired bricks, before making a hand-made oven

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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In the picture it can be seen the amount of wood required to fired a hand-made oven of 500 bricks.

image: Laia Garc´ía | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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2016, when we started working with the community women's group to tackle the issue of environmental degradation and promote alternative ways of building

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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after that, in 2018 we started the construction of the health centre using a compressing machine

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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and the women's group worked in the construction while learning new ways of using locally-available materials, such as bamboo to create ventilated fences

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Msafiri discussing the external walls colour and texture with women's group

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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women working in the contruction of the improved pit latrine as part of the public toilet for the health centre

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Building the toilet block's water tank with the CSEB technique

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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improved pit latrine under construction (public toilet for the health centre)

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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public toilet block built with CSEB and bamboo

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Health Centre from the main entrance, built with CSEB technique

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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waiting area in the interior courtyard, Health Centre Maji Moto 2019

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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The health centre at night

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Health Centre Opening day, 2019

image: Laia Garc´ía | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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External Health centre, with the local Bamboo ventilated fence

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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volunteers team during 2019 under the health centre completion

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Technical drawings
This visual and easy manual was created with the intention of giving to the community the tools to build with CSEB, alongside trainings and awareness campaigns.

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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context of Maji Moto

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Environment's analysis Maji Moto

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Locally-sourced building materials used

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Health Centre floor plan

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Health Centre section 1

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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section 2 health centre

image: Laia Garc´ía | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Health centre axonometric

image: Laia García | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Toilet block process of improving a pit latrine

image: Laia García and Victoria Casanovas | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Toilet block axonometric

image: Laia Garc´ía and Victoria Casanovas | CC-BY_black.png some rights reserved
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Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
Our project is at a pilot stage and will be developed  in collaboration with the Maasai community of Maji Moto (1800 inhabitants) in Tanzania, and Enjetare NGO. Several programmes featuring the properties and benefits of CSEB have already been implemented through the construction of community-led public facilities in the village, which included workshops on locally-sourced earth materials with villagers and training on compressed bricks to construction workers. With the cooperative, we want to move on from the prototype phase and provide the community with the actual tools to develop their own CSEB building projects through more specialised training and support to micro-entreprise.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
80% expertise already found
40% materials / equipment already found
30% builders already found
Finance: € 25,500
Over the next year, and with the help of potential donors, we believe we can achieve to:

-build a physical space of innovation, knowledge
sharing, reciprocal skill transfers and project support;
-establish a cooperative leading sustainable innovation and pioneering in offering affordable, innovative and locally-produced building materials;
-slow-down desertification in the area and encourage “green” awareness and actions, such as reforestation and community-led resources management;
-Support micro-entreprise and the wider community’s resilience as residents benefit from the economic knock-on effects of the cooperative activities.
  • Operational costs to legally set-up cooperative
  • 2,500
  • Costs associated with the lab construction
  • 6,000
  • Compressing machines 500x4
  • 2,000
  • Salary for the staff trainers, officers and partne
  • 8,000
  • CSEB production materials
  • 3,000
  • Funding to villagers to build with CSEB
  • 4,000
    Skills: Planning & Management, Financial advice
    Our role on the several projects we have made have focused since now on design, construction and community participation. The initiative we are launching now goes beyond the act of building, but includes the community in the process of transforming the building tradition towards more ecologic ways of building. To achieve that, we need the support of experts on Planning and management, so to be able to activate the eco-cooperative in the most successful and sustainable way, both for the community and the built environment. As well, thinking on the long term self-reliance of the eco-cooperative we hope to have financial advice to better achieve such financial independence of the cooperative from partners and the local NGO. 
    Stuff: Equipment & tools
    Our objective is to use as much local materials as possible. Mostly locally-sourced building materials like raw earth, sand, timber and bamboo. Also, we want to support local businesses, so additional materials will be bought in the close-by shops or in Arusha. 
    However, due to the lack of compressing machines in Tanzania, it would be very useful for us to be provided with these. We want to start by having 4 machines. 2 of them for producing bricks of 29x14x11 (small size) for partitions and wider bricks (29x26x11), for structural walls. Also, we would like to have a U compressing machine to be used as a formwork to produce U pieces, avoiding ring beams which waste a lot of cement. 
    Help bring our project to life!
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