The classroom block at Chipwepwete is going up quicker than expected. The builders have been putting in SSBs – soil stabilised bricks – at the front of the building. These are bricks made from sand, soil and a little bit of cement. They are then dried in the air, no firing needed. In Malawi these bricks are replacing ‘burnt bricks’ which have historically been used for building houses by locals. Burnt bricks are easy to make – mud pressed in a mould. However they are then burnt in kilns made from the bricks. This uses a huge amount of fuel, namely trees. In the last 20 years most of the trees in Malawi have been cut down for firewood and kilns. Sadly there hasn’t been the replanting needed to replace the trees cut down. The consequence is bare hills and country side devoid of trees. The Malawi government have now banned the burning of bricks in kilns for all commercial development including school buildings. Hense SSBs, these are dried in the air so don’t use as much fuel to make. They are also very beautiful!
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