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  • 7/28/2019 Interlocking Blocks


    Interlocking Stabilised Soil BlocksAppropriate earth technologies in Uganda

    Appropriate technology that doesnt cost the earth

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    Please send your feedback and suggestions(including further case studies for consideration) to:

    Dan LewisDisaster Management ProgrammeUN-HABITATEmail: [email protected]

    UN-HABITAT/Adrian Perez

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    Copyright United Nations Human Settlements Programme(UN-HABITAT) 2009

    All rights reservedUnited Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)P. O. Box 30030, 00100 Nairobi GPO KENYATel: 254-20-7623120 (Central Office)Fax: [email protected]

    HS/1184/09EISBN: 978-92-1-132150-0


    The designations employed and the presentation of the materialin this publication do not imply the expression of any opinionwhatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nationsconcerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or areaor of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its fron-tiers of boundaries. Views expressed in this publication do notnecessarily reflect those of the United Nations Human SettlementsProgramme, the United Nations, or its Member States. Excerptsmay be reproduced without authorization, on condition that thesource is indicated.


    Editorial Team: Mohamed El Soufi, Dan Lewis, Filiep Decorte, Mo-nique Iglebaek, Tom Osanjo, Christophe Lalande, Caylee Hong, LisaBaumgartner, Dan Andabati, Adrin Mauricio Prez-Pea

    Principal Editor and Manager: Filiep Decorte and Monique IglebaekPrincipal Author: Adrin Mauricio Prez-PeaDesign and Layout: Adrin Mauricio Prez-Pea

    Photography by Lisa Baumgartner, Peter Donde, Caylee Hong,Adrin Mauricio Prez-Pea, Manuel Scrima, James Morris, Univer-sity of Utah, Vetsch Architects

    Participating Individuals and Organizations (in alphabetical order):Arup Consultants: Mathew Bloodworth, Hugh Gray, George Irwin,Ewan Smith, David WilliamsBULA Inc: Melissa Fricke and Andrea ProcopioCARITAS: Rev. Fr. Vincent Kisenyi-Byansi and Bro. Kayondo MathiasCentre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation in UgandaConnect Africa Resource Centers: Trevor TychonGood Earth Trust: Sophie Mills, Bobby LembertHaileybury Youth Trust: Helen GoddardJoy Center: Rev. Canon Benoni Mugarura-Mutana

    Kampala Hospital: Kawalya KanyerezeLords Meade Vocational School: Godfrey KigangaMakiga Engineering: Ken ShivachiMalewa Trust in KenyaMount Meru Millers Ltd.: R.K. BharhavaNotre Dame High SchoolOyani Womens Group (Kenya): George TitoPresidential Initiative to Support Appropriate TechnologySt. Matia Mulumba PolytechnicTechnology for TomorrowThe Jane Goodall InstituteUN-HABITAT: Robert Adupa, Peter Donde, David Kithakye, PeterWegulo

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  • 7/28/2019 Interlocking Blocks



    I am pleased to share with you this publication, which is based on acollaboration between UN-HABITAT and Good Earth Trust (GET). GETis an organisation that promotes the adoption of high quality andenvironmentally friendly construction technologies in East Africa. Bydeveloping and promoting low-cost and sustainable building materi-als and construction technologies it is therefore contributing to theattainment of the Habitat Agenda and the overall goal of adequateshelter for all.

    The civil war in Northern Uganda left thousands without homes andstripped the landscape of a good part of its trees and foliage. Inspiredby UN-HABITATs Strategic Policy on Human Settlements and Crisis,

    our response has focused on helping to speed up the return of dis-placed persons and the process of reconstruction and recovery. Put-ting in place critical infrastructure and services is essential to this task.In a war-ravaged landscape, appropriate construction technologieshelp to ensure the recovery of the environment which is so essentialin supporting peoples livelihoods. Darfur, Eastern Congo, and Somaliaare other examples in the region where similar approaches have beenpiloted successfully and will hopefully be more widely utilized.

    This publication also demonstrates how environmentally-friendly build-ing materials and construction technologies can be made more afford-able to the urban poor while still meeting rigorous building standards.These techniques also help in mitigating climate change by avoidingcarbon emissions during the production of building materials and con-struction as well as by saving thousands of trees. This publication isintended to help promote the use of earth construction in a widerregion where conditions permit, as part of our efforts to address theglobal challenges created by climate change.

    It is my sincere hope that this publication will be a source of inspirationto all those who want to help change the way we deal with our envi-ronment while meeting the urgent housing needs of people in placeslike northern Uganda.

    Anna K. TibaijukaExecutive DirectorUnited Nations Human Settlement Programme(UN-HABITAT)

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  • 7/28/2019 Interlocking Blocks



    Meeting the need for adequate housing of the worlds population re-quires sustained investment and continued innovation, particularly inappropriate technologies that lower the cost of construction and thecost to the environment.

    Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology is one such tech-nology that is gaining growing recognition, notably in East Africa.Compared with alternatives such as fired brick, it offers lower con-struction costs at comparable quality, is suitable for a wide range ofenvironments, and dramatically reduces the impact on the environ-

    ment. With a growing number of organisations using the technologythere is a need to improve communication and knowledge-sharing, toquantify and verify the benefits, and to develop efficient approachesfor its promotion and adoption.

    The purpose of this publication is to promote the use of the tech-nology by sharing some case studies of successful ISSB adoption andadaptation to local contexts. It also highlights some of the challengesfaced in developing and promoting the technology with some key les-sons learned from the growing amount of practical experience. It isa contribution to the process of information exchange and a tool tobuild awareness amongst key stakeholders interested in the sustain-

    able development of human settlements.

    As the UN agency concerned with human settlements, UN-HABITATis committed to supporting the development and promotion of thistechnology. The Good Earth Trust, which is dedicated to the promo-tion of such technologies and focusing specifically on ISSB, welcomesthis publication as an important and timely contribution.

    Good Earth TrustDisaster Management ProgrammeUN-HABITAT

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  • 7/28/2019 Interlocking Blocks



    The building and construction industry is considered a keyplayer in sustainable development, with the potential to signifi-cantly impact society and the environment (Shelter Initiativefor Climate Change Mitigation).

    There is a need to promote awareness of appropriate constructiontechnologies in civil society and the private sector. Appropriate tech-nologies refer to materials, methods and/or practices which help pro-tect the natural environment, take inspiration from the cultural valuesand practices in the area, make use of local resources, and contribute

    to local economic development.

    In conflict or disaster affected areas, the natural environment is oftenseriously degraded due to the direct damages and the overall lack ofmanagement and care. Like in Uganda, traditional building techniquesoften consume a lot of wood and the massive reconstruction needsrisk to further accelerate the environmental degradation. An importantaspect of building back betteris the use of appropriate technologiesthat help preserve the environment, are affordable and create newlivelihood opportunities.

    This publication discusses the use of Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks

    (ISSB) within the context of Uganda, as an alternative to burned bricksand wattle and daub amidst the return of thousands of displaced andthe need for reconstruction of schools and health facilities. This tech-nology makes use of soil for the making of blocks which is naturallyor chemically stabilized and then compressed by manually operatedor motor-driven machines. This publication deals only with the blocksmade with the manually operated machine as it is the most afford-able option, more easily transferable to different contexts, and easy touse and maintain. The use of earth for building is already a commonpractice in Uganda. The production of ISSBs can provide new livelihoodopportunities. The benefits of ISSB are manifold and its use versatile.

    This publication has been created in order to promote awareness ofISSBs as well as to illustrate the challenges and lesson learned of differ-ent organizations in Uganda using this technology. By compiling andgathering data of these different organizations, common challengescan be summarized, providing a way forward to further develop thetechnology.

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  • 7/28/2019 Interlocking Blocks


    Types of Earth Architecture......................................................................................2

    Development of ISSB Technology.........................................................

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