Kayembe and the Class of 2017

Posted on August 28th, 2017

The trainees at Kayembe Primary School, HYT’s 11th community training project, have come a long way from building newspaper structures on interview day. Thanks to the expertise of HYT trainers and the generosity of international partners Water Charity, they have had the chance to practice building both a double classroom block and a rainwater harvesting tank.


HYT Uganda team building exercise at Kayembe Primary School

HYT doesn’t encourage building houses out of paper, except on interview day, where it is a key team building exercise.


Before commencing construction, the trainees were thoroughly versed in the arts of block-making, producing over 8000 interlocking stabilised soil blocks (ISSB). Some of these were cuboid, for the classroom, and some were curved, for the water tank. All of them were made from locally-sourced marram subsoil and cured in the sun, rather than being fired in a kiln using traditional methods.


HYT Uganda ISSB construction press at Kayembe Primary School

Jenipher has proved to the community that women can play a key role on any construction site!


HYT takes pride in efficient use of resources, and at this foundational stage in their masonry careers, trainees learn the importance of precise, responsible workmanship. Plaster, for example, is only applied to joints like corners and pillars, and tools such as building string, set squares and spirit levels are employed to make sure that they are coated as thinly and accurately as possible.


HYT Uganda plastering and set square at Kayembe Primary School

Moses has a particularly keen eye for detail, and has been leading the way in plastering class at Kayembe.


Of course, the gift of learning is extended by the trainees to the pupils of the school, who will soon be able to use the classroom for their own lessons. An indoor teaching space allows year-round classes free from distractions and the constant threat of rain.


HYT Uganda outdoor learning at Kayembe Primary School

Learning under the mango tree is not quite so idyllic when it’s pouring down with rain!


Rain can also be a blessing and, before it can get to the heads and papers of pupils at Kayembe, it will be caught by the 170m2 roof and channelled into the nearby 20,000L water tank. This saves pupils from going to fetch water from the community borehole which, in busy seasons, can consume up to 5 hours of learning time a week.


HYT Uganda pupils collect water at Kayembe Primary School

It is pupils who lose out on time in the classroom to go and collect water for drinking, cooking and washing.


The tank has also provided a practical training course for the building team, who now possess the skills necessary to produce these unique structures. Following their graduation, they will use their construction expertise to continue building, providing water for the region, food for their families and a new path for development that makes innovative use of, rather than exploiting, Uganda’s environmental heritage.


HYT Uganda sustainable ISSB construction team at Kayembe Primary School

Many thanks to Water Charity for helping to train a fantastic new tank team!

Iowa State of Mind: HYT Partners with Major U.S. University

Posted on August 14th, 2017

When HYT graduates arrived at Iowa State University (I.S.U.) campus in Kamuli, Uganda, they were not greeted by the flurries of students, society gatherings and introductory seminars that might be expected. A troop of monkeys larking around in the trees was the closest thing to student life in the area, and the only learning taking place was how to leap safely from one branch to the next. That’s because construction had not yet begun. It was HYT’s job to build the campus’ hallowed walls, and to do so with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible.


Iowa State University Top Wall

As HYT’s construction manager at Iowa State University site, Johnny has been tasked with constructing the walls!


I.S.U.’s campus in Kamuli is to be an agricultural training centre, where rural farmers and their families can learn how to grow food more effectively and sustainably. It makes sense for HYT, as recent award winners in sustainable building, to take part in the project, ensuring that construction doesn’t spell destruction for the local environment.


Iowa State University Wall

HYT is committed to low-impact, high quality construction across all of our projects.


The first semester, typically for HYT, began with making blocks for the wall which, like the rest of the campus, has been expertly designed by Studio FH Architects, and skilfully managed by Dudley Kasibante & Partners Ltd. Once the manual press arrived from Makiga, red marram subsoil, dug from the site itself, was mixed with sand and a little cement to make compressed earth blocks (CEBs). These are more conventional, cuboid versions of HYT’s innovative interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB). The masons may have been CEB freshmen when they started the project but, as seniors in sustainable construction techniques, it didn’t take them long to study up and master this new challenge.


Iowa State University CEBs

The manual press moulds strong, consistent compressed earth blocks, unlike traditional firing methods.


In fact, the group has taken to the new method like a college rowing team to water, making as many as 500 blocks in a day, and a total of over 30,000 during the course of the project. Manufacturing the same amount of fired bricks, the traditional building material in Kamuli, would require 42 tonnes of firewood, or more than ten mature trees!


Iowa State University Blocks

Block production went through the roof in the early stages of the project!


Curing bricks, rather than firing them, is a great way of avoiding deforestation, but it’s not the only one. Every tree on the ISU campus has been numbered and, where possible, preserved in its original position. Project Manager Johnny Nsubuga is particularly proud of where the wall has moved to accommodate the existing foliage. His conscientious approach to building proves that you don’t need to move mountains to protect the planet, only a few bricks.


Iowa State University Tree

Johnny demonstrates where he has adjusted the wall to preserve the tree behind him.


The term is not yet over for HYT masons at the Iowa State University campus, and they are committed to maintaining A-grade construction throughout. Until the campus comes to life as a centre for education and innovation, HYT will continue to work diligently and create an accommodating environment for the site’s future inhabitants, as well as its current ones!



Iowa State University Building Line

Johnny supervises the building line at Iowa State University’s Kamuli campus.