On the Road in India: American NGO workers build low cost houses in Madurai

Another media report about our earthbag project in India. We’ve managed to get in the newspaper or TV every day this week. Channel News7 Tamil said they will produce a half hour show very soon with full coverage of the meeting room that’s under construction. Once it’s completed, small groups will be able to meet around a conference table, watch digital presentations and enjoy snacks and beverages. This concept fits perfectly with Anna University’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and sustainable building.


7 thoughts on “On the Road in India: American NGO workers build low cost houses in Madurai”

    • Thank you. It’s very exciting here because so many people are interested in what we have to say. This is partly due to at least two factors: They are already knowledgeable about green building, plus the need is so great. The potential for millions of projects in India is very real. And, the good success of earthbag in Nepal makes our message easier to grasp.

  1. Yeah, its unfortunate that they cut off that one sentence just when it was getting interesting! I would be very interested in a translation of what the local folks were saying about the building, it would give some insight about how the earthbag technology was being accepted. Also would love to see the completed building. It looks like its going to be lovely.

    Good job. Congratulations Owen!

    • Thanks Tim. I don’t know what that particular worker said but I know for sure the workers are very happy and excited about this project and the long term prospects. We have a Tamil guide and translator who’s also the India representative now for Good Earth Nepal (you can see Titus speaking in the video) and he fills us in on what locals say. The locals understand earthbag faster than Americans and other westerners who can afford more expensive options. We gave a presentation yesterday at the theological seminary where we are staying and someone in the audience said their grandparents built an earthbag house many years ago. This means they had no books, no training, videos, nothing except common sense. They figured out they could fill recycled rice bags with soil to build their home and just did it. That shows how simple earthbag is.

      Lots of people here quickly understand how earthbags could be used for water tanks, toilets, biogas plants, houses, schools, etc. Even high level university folks like deans, administrators and professors are lining up projects as we speak. The challenge right now is to find groups to fund the projects.

    • No one, unfortunately. And because the film crew kept making mistakes they kept us waiting in the hot sun for almost an hour. That’s why we look so frazzled. And note all the mistakes in the current version — my last sentence is cut off, Kateryna’s beginning and ending sentences are cut off. 95% of the video taken was not used and what was used did not adequately cover the information. We’re trying to get them to redo the video.

  2. I very much enjoyed a presentation by one of the architecture professors at Anna University. He spoke in Tamil and English so everyone could understand. He showed examples of traditional architecture from centuries past that included water features, use of local materials, inner courtyards and other sustainable features that could make modern houses greener and more livable. One quote jumped out at me: “You can’t design anything unless you understand the local context.” True, all effective solutions must be based on local conditions.


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