Make it Rain in Mabira: Tanks, Training and Trees Galore!

Posted on December 1st, 2017

It’s been over a month since HYT started work on the Mabira Forest Rainwater Harvesting Project. The team has already completed two out of six water tanks, learning much about sustainable construction in the process.


Mabira Water Level

The team is gelling well as trainees learn to use equipment like the water level.


The project began at Kikube Primary School, where trainees assembled to start learning about the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB). They were taught in the best way possible – through practical construction, making and building with a total of 650 blocks. By the end of the project, they’ll have made nearly 4,000!


Trainer Musa in Mabira

Trainer Musa has made thousands of blocks since his graduation from an HYT training programme in 2010.


The tank at Kikube will provide clean, accessible water for 223 pupils, and the school plans to sell excess water to the local community. This will maximise teaching time for the children by reducing their trips to the borehole, and give the school a little spending money to improve its facilities.


Tank at Kikube, Mabira

Apparently it is also a nice place for teachers to sit and enjoy fene, or jackfruit… 


Mabira Forest stretches for over 30,000 ha along the Kampala-Jinja Expressway, and HYT’s partner schools are spread across the region. For trainees like Irene, a single mother determined to complete the training programme and obtain decent employment, this presents a challenge.


Raymond at Mabira

Musa and the team have formed the first HYT crèche to care for little Raymond while his mother Irene learns to build.


However, HYT requests that schools contribute to projects through feeding, accommodation and site security, to promote a sense of community participation and ownership. Kasoga has done so enthusiastically and efficiently, and Irene and her son will be residents for the duration of the training programme.


Tank Interior Kasoga, Mabira

If the tank can fit trainees Erisa and Irene, imagine how much water it can hold!


The tank here at Kasoga will supply the school’s 139 girls and 145 boys with water for cleaning, cooking and drinking. Its 10,000L capacity makes use of the forest’s regular rainfall, without damaging the trees that maintain it!


Brick Burning in Mabira

Brick burning combines the destructive practices of clay and firewood extraction to damage a whole suite of ecosystem services.


HYT is committed to communicating the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness to all of its trainees and their communities. Here in Mabira it is particularly crucial, given the growing pressures on the forest from agriculture and brick burning.


Mabira Trainee Dennis

Trainee Dennis used to make burnt bricks before he joined the training programme. He is now encouraging his friends to adopt what he sees as the building technology of the future.


Bringing sustainable construction skills and the benefits of decent water and sanitation to Mabira’s communities can feel like a race against time, but it’s one worth running. By solving local challenges with local people, HYT and its building teams are part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity loss here in Mabira, and across Uganda.


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Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

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RAVO: A School Transformed, an Environment Preserved

Posted on November 15th, 2017

In October, HYT completed its most recent project at the Refuge for Aids Victims & Orphans (RAVO), Mayuge. The project was funded by Peter Bond, a long term benefactor of the school and an old friend of HYT. Passionate about delivering water and sanitation to Uganda’s most vulnerable, Peter commissioned 5 new latrines and a washroom for RAVO.


RAVO new latrines

The school gathers to celebrate the opening of the new structure.


The new facilities will greatly raise hygiene standards at the school, whose 256 pupils previously shared just 5 small, dilapidated latrines. They are excited about the prospect of the new ventilated improved pit latrines (VIPs), which reduce odour and fly nuisances.



It’s a thumbs up from RAVO’s pupils!


This particular build, which provided 8 young masons with 2 months’ employment, is the latest in a series of projects at RAVO. Peter has previously partnered with HYT to provide the school with 2 dormitories, 2 water tanks and a kitchen.


RAVO Girl's Dormitory

The girls are clearly proud of their dormitory…


The improved living, drinking, cooking and washing facilities have enabled the school to support a far greater number of vulnerable pupils. Since their construction, the enrolment of boys in the boarding section has grown by 25%, while the number of girl boarders has seen a 33% increase!


RAVO Boys' Dormitory

… and so are the boys!


Every one of the HYT structures here has been built using the interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB). This drastically reduces the environmental cost of construction, as these unique earth bricks do not need burning. Building with ISSB at RAVO has saved 11 tonnes of firewood (2 large, mature trees) and 66 MWh of embodied energy.


Latrines by RAVO Rocks

Thanks to the ISSB, RAVO’s stunning surroundings are still as green as before.


And that’s just the construction process! The kitchen’s energy saving stoves have halved the school’s monthly truckloads of firewood since their construction. That means fewer trees thrown into the fire, and much less smoke in the lungs of the caterers!


RAVO Kitchen

HYT’s bold energy-saving kitchen design (and an even bolder chicken)…


HYT is pleased to see individuals and communities alike embracing the revolutionary power of the ISSB. Our unique approach to training, local participation (at which RAVO excels) and sustainable construction is gaining ground across Uganda. A big HYT thank you goes to Peter Bond for his ongoing support, our building teams for their consistent hard work, and to RAVO for making us welcome, as ever!



Keep up-to-date with HYT’s work by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.









Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

Watch our exciting video, or check out our work at