A group of youths working under the name Wakiso Parish Youth Apostolate (WAPYA), based in the district of Wakiso has revolutionalised the process of brick-making. The youths make sun baked interlocking blocks, known as the eco-bricks. Fire burned
bricks are the most commonly used bricks in Uganda. With the eco bricks no burning is required meaning that no wood is needed. The eco blocks are made with soil, lake sand and cement and are strong and durable.
The group started making the bricks in June 2012 with a borrowed interlocking block machine. In October 2012 the group received two block making machines from the UNDP funded project under WWF, through the Ministry of Energy. With one machine they were
making 350 blocks a day and now make 700 blocks a day with the two machines. The group hopes to acquire a motor powered machine which would double the number of blocks made per day.WAPYA is a faith based organization and presently markets their blocks in churches and schools within Wakiso. They have also got contracts from a few individuals. The interest in the blocks is still low because of the price. The cost of one ecobrick is 400 shillings while an ordinary fire burned brick costs 150shs. Still, the eco brick has several advantages;
- They don’t require firewood because they dry in the sun and dry quickly. Ordinary bricks may take two weeks to a month before they are ready and burning a single brick requires at least a kilogram of firewood.
- They require less labour. With the normal brick there is need for porters to carry water, carry firewood, set the bricks ready for burning while the eco bricks only require about three porters to mix the materials and operate the machine.
- Eco-bricks can be made on site and hence minimise on breakage as commonly happens during the transportation of the burned bricks.
- – Eco bricks use less water while ordinary bricks require more water.
WAPYA is one of the five Community Based Organisations in Wakiso district being supported by UNDP. The CBO recently received additional funding of close to nine millions Uganda shillings to help them acquire two more block making machines and increase their production. Brick making is one of the main causes of deforestation and the destruction of forests is one of the biggest sources of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. At the moment, deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for up to a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions each year.
We urgently need to reduce emissions if we’re to avoid the consequences of climate change – from flooding to drought, food shortages to species extinction. Conserving our forests is a crucial part of this. WAPYA’s eco-brick innovation is a step in the right direction.