Posted on March 10th, 2017
HYT helps to put food on the tables of both Ugandan youths and schoolchildren. By training young, unemployed community members in sustainable Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) construction, we enable them to develop local infrastructure. Graduates of HYT’s training programme thus gain employment, building without damaging Uganda’s fragile environment, and providing important resources for communities. Among the many different structures that trainees learn to build are kitchens and rainwater harvesting tanks. These buildings are vital for meeting the basic dietary and sanitary needs of communities and their schools.
The kitchen here at Nakibungulya was built by youths during the training programme. Doing so afforded them the opportunity to learn a new construction style while providing the community with stronger, safer cooking facilities. The airy, unenclosed space enables cooks to prepare beans, posho, and maize porridge without being swamped by smoke. Children and teachers therefore go to lessons well-fed and able to participate fully in the learning process.
At Uganda Railways Primary school in Jinja, UK charity Children on the Edge commissioned a kitchen alongside the HYT-built Early Childhood Development Centre. The facilities now provide nourishment and education to economically disadvantaged children, who previously did not have access to such necessities.
Children are not the only beneficiaries of HYT’s state-of-the-art technology. Energy-saving stoves are installed in all of our kitchens in order to reduce firewood consumption. This saves money and helps to preserve Uganda’s increasingly threatened biodiversity.
Mama Jane’s Centre for Vulnerable Children also feed their staff and pupils using an HYT kitchen. Housed in one of Jinja’s historic Indian-style homes, the orphanage had to demolish its old kitchen, whose smoke was filling the enclosed courtyard. HYT’s new build dramatically reduced this issue with its large windows and ceiling ventilation pipe. The whole centre is now able to eat without worrying about clouds of dangerous smoke. According to Headmistress Agnes, “it helps us to cook much faster and it is less smoky”.
One of our most recent kitchens was constructed at the Refuge for Aids Victims and Orphans here in Mayuge. Thanks to the energy-saving stoves, the school has reduced its monthly firewood shipments from two truckloads to less than one! Water is also saved thanks to the two HYT-built rainwater harvesting tanks. This vital resource is not only used for porridge, but also for handwashing and cleaning of plates and surfaces, improving food hygiene as well as provision.
Through the construction of water tanks and kitchens, HYT helps to feed society’s most vulnerable members, without eating away at Uganda’s natural environment. The 35 water tanks scheduled for 2017 will continue to make use of ISSB technology, creating jobs for Ugandan youths, increasing access to food and water, and spreading sustainable construction methods.
Posted on February 6th, 2017
Kadungulu Secondary School’s new dormitory has been the talk of the town now that HYT and Billington Vocational Training Centre (BVTC) have added a shiny red roof! Eric, Sam and the team have been hard at work training and building, and the project is nearing completion. Let’s find out just what’s been wowing the local community, and how the two organisations are working to improve lives for the people here in Uganda’s Teso region.
With the roofing complete, trainees will soon learn essential finishing techniques such as plastering and painting. In the meantime, however, the durability of Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB) allows the masons to leave them exposed and begin work on another structure: the water tank. This vital building affords trainees the opportunity to work with the curved block, a key form of compressed earth technology.
Rectangular blocks are great for building classrooms, houses, washrooms and many other structures, but water storage pressure requires round tanks. Fortunately, Makiga Engineering supplies a press for making curved blocks that are perfectly suited to this purpose. The technology has been causing quite a stir here in Kadungulu, where circular architecture is extremely popular. There have already been requests for round ISSB houses!
Though the manually operated press and wide availability of necessary soils make ISSB suitable for use all over Uganda, the technology offers particular benefits within Teso. Not only are people already familiar with round earth structures, but the region also lacks the dense forests of the West. This means fewer trees for firing brick kilns, raising prices and making ISSB a lucrative alternative. Hit hard by the drought currently sweeping Uganda, it is imperative for Teso to save as many trees, and as much rainwater, as possible.
Having a rainwater tank on site not only improves health and sanitation, but provides educational benefits. Without one, students miss lessons in order to collect water from the nearest borehole. With everyone using such facilities during the dry season, queues can become extremely long and delay students further. Our tanks help to tackle both the symptoms and roots of this problem. The water stored helps to shorten queues and keep kids in class, while the bricks help to prevent crippling deforestation.
As well as contributing to global warming through increased carbon emissions, deforestation has been found to affect local rainfall negatively. According to David Ellison from the Institute for World Economics, “evapo-transpiration is a very large component of rain generation”. It’s therefore critical for Teso to conserve its remaining trees, allowing them to store and release life-giving water. HYT’s sun-dried ISSBs enable communities to build structures for harvesting rainwater, without burning the very forests that provide it.
Empowering communities to develop sustainably involves more than just constructing buildings. HYT’s partnership with BVTC covers the training of 10 youths, who can continue to build beyond the Kadungulu project. To aid Sam and Eric in the teaching process, newly appointed HYT assistant trainer Alamanzani has arrived on site. Having first joined the organisation as a trainee at St. Mulumba, Kiseege, he has now progressed to become a fully-fledged teacher of ISSB technology!
The enthusiastic response to HYT’s work in Teso bodes well for the future of ISSB. Environmental conditions, eagerness to experiment and the presence of a highly trained team will all contribute to the proliferation of this innovative technology. We’re extremely grateful to BVTC for their central involvement in the project. With their help, we will bring the practice of sustainable construction to the areas that need it most, improving lives and preserving trees all over Uganda.
 David Ellison, cited in Kate Evans’ ‘Make it Rain: Planting forests could help drought-stricken regions’, Forest News, (July, 2012).