We harbour dreams of seeing a reforested Malawi, but that won’t happen unless the consumption of trees is reduced drastically. The main resource for building in Malawi are burnt bricks. These are clay bricks that are then fired in an oven using vast quantities of wood. Fortunately, there is an alternative solution…enter the Stabilised Soil Block or SSB!
SSBs are produced using locally found soil that is crushed very finely and then mixed with cement. We use just 5% cement! The mixture is then wetted and pressed into shape using a manual press. The blocks are then cured for a week by watering daily and then allowed to dry naturally. We’ve had our blocks tested and they are as strong as normal concrete blocks, which makes them twice as strong as burnt bricks! Another great feature are the interlocking ridges and gullies moulded into each block, these allow for minimal mortar use when building!
We have been refining the process over the last few months and now have a burgeoning team producing up to 1000 blocks per day! We regularly test our soil to guarantee the right balance of components to ensure the strongest and most water-resistant blocks.
The blocks are now being used to build foundations and later the classroom at our Chipwepwete site. We also plan to use these on the Chimwabvi Secondary School project.