'Earth Bag' Houses in Malawi as Alternative to Wood

At the local brick kiln, a truck laden with logs pulls up and unloads. Soon smoke is billowing, as a new set of bricks bakes inside.

Malawi's construction industry relies heavily on bricks - and the wood needed to make them is a major reason the country's indigenous forests are fast disappearing.

But an unusual home construction technique - using dirt or sand packed into plastic sacks and stacked - is now being tried out in Rumphi, in the north of the country, as a way to cut back on bricks and save what's left of the region's forests.

As part of the project, carried out by the Roscher Youth Development Centre with German backing, young people are being given technical and financial help to construct the environmentally friendly houses.

"We have lost a lot of trees and we now still continue losing them, at a chilling rate. Our mountains and hills that had thick forests are now bare except for a few trees and shrubs," said Moir Walita Mkandawire, executive director of the non-profit youth development centre.


Anjan Chatterjee


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