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Mwanza Rural Housing Programme, Tanzania

Sustainable brick-making using agricultural waste

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Bricks waiting to be fired using agricultural waste, Tanzania.

“I wanted a permanent house. In my experience, every year the house falls down in the rainy season. I want a durable house, so that I can relax.”

A familiar complaint in the villages around the City of Mwanza in Tanzania, where housing was poor quality, often made from mud and requiring constant repair. Brick housing is possible given the abundant supply of local clay, but shortages of wood because of deforestation meant that the fuel for firing clay bricks was in short supply

Until MRHP, a local NGO, set out to replace the wood and so sow the seed for a more vibrant brick-making industry. Their replacement for the wood was agricultural residue such as rice husks and cotton waste. The residue fed temporary, easy-to assemble kilns. MRHP provided training and arranged financing for local villagers and enterprises (costs ranged from US$800 to US$2,400). The kilns enabled the production of international standard bricks, increasing the market potential.

By 2009 enough bricks had been produced to build over 150,000 homes, providing a secure and stable structure for many people. Bricks are also produced for schools and government housing projects. In addition estimates suggest a saving of 110,000 m3 of fuelwood and 75,000 tonnes of CO2 emission. And over 60 brickmaking enterprises have been established.

However, MRHP as an NGO had always been reliant on grant funding. Thanks to Ashden Awards support they have secured investment to start up a for-profit brick making business.