The Mlambe Earthbag Project

Earthbag school project in Malawi
Earthbag school project in Malawi

“Dear Owen, I thought I would drop you an email and just let you know our earthbag building in Malawi went very well! I believe it is the only development of its kind in the country. There is a summary of activities at The Mlambe Project website with photos. I am very grateful to you and the website. If there is anything I can do as a thank you- please just ask.”

“I arrived home from Malawi last week and I now finally have some time to update everyone fully on my time in Malawi as Mlambe Project Manager.

Our notable achievements are: bringing in a new building technique to Malawi which reduces costs by 85%, teaching this building technique so that people can create their own businesses, working with the community so that we have universal support, fundraising to be able to build 6 classrooms, keeping costs low so that we have negligible admin costs and creating a network of NGOs in Malawi who are sharing information. I really do believe that every pound donors have given us has gone so much further than conventional charities and I am so grateful you took a risk in funding a group of young innovative graduates.

When we arrived the community were ready to go. They had previously selected 8 ‘experts’ who were going to be trained in Earthbag building. These experts were selected by (and from) the Mlambe school committee, the parent teachers association, the mother’s committee and the local village chiefs. In addition to the 8 experts the local chiefs sent 20 villagers to volunteer each day. The experts had their expenses paid (as they are working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day!) and the villagers did it all off their own backs. So arriving, with our roof tent to sleep in and with a load of materials we began building.

We decided with the school committee to first build a storage room / volunteer house. This would allow us to train the experts in the basics of the building method and give us an area to live and give the school committee and area keep all the donations/materials.

In three days the building was really taking shape! We found the building was going faster than originally expected and also cheaper. Our budget for the small building came in at less than £500. Scaling this budget up means that we should be able to put up a school block (two classrooms) for just £3000. This means that our budget is currently running at just 1/7th of the standard price other NGOs pay. Making your funding go at least 7 times further (plus the added benefits of training a community in innovative building and all the other bits our volunteers are managing to do [read on to find out more]). Our building should also last longer, keep cool during the day and provide a good quality learning environment.”

More at the source: The Mlambe Project

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