The battle between development and environmental conservation can often be a fierce one. With the natural progression towards growth, the environment is often left tattered in the wake.
Wildlife Works at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project has certainly grown in the last few years, and will hopefully continue to do so. We’ve increased the number of jobs in the local area twofold from a year ago. We are very aware of the effects of development on the environment, which is why we’ve opted to use simple, eco-friendly architecture wherever we can.
The newest sector in the company requires a base from which they can run their field operations. The concept of their new building involves using traditional architecture from the local community. The construction of circular buildings (‘rondavels’) is carried out using the “Finniemore” technology which involves an extremely simple “rammed earth” method.
“Rammed earth” compacts the soil excavated on site, thereby dramatically reducing the need to import materials. Why? There is no stabilising compound needed as long as the footings are well drained. Once the roof is in place, voila! It stands up to the test of time!
Once the outer walls have been constructed, another rammed earth construction method is used to build the interior dividing walls. These blocks are compressed in a simple hand-operated machine which produces Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks, more commonly known as ISSB. Three unskilled labourers are able to use this machine and create either curved or straight blocks. The shape of the blocks allows them to interlock, meaning that there is no need for a cement mortar between courses. This method is not only cheaper than buying, transporting and installing a plastic tank from a large corporation, but is also longer lasting and increases employment of local unskilled labourers, as well as further reducing imports.
The roofing for the research centre is made from the coastal-style Makuti, which is the same roofing style we used in our dining area, as described in our previous blog entry. The Makuti sections (coconut leaflets wound over the mid rib of the coconut leaf) are often made by mothers and grandmothers, while they sit on their stoops watching over their children and chickens. Not only is this a great roofing method that keeps the building cool, which is ideal for housing and meeting areas, it also provides a small additional income for Kenyan women in their own homes. During their spare time, the women are able to convert a by-product of a tree found locally into something useful for extra income.
Makuti roofs are all natural and sustainable, and they create local jobs and decrease the importation of alternatives such as metal and other non-compostable materials.
The Wildlife Works team is very happy with the construction so far! We are always on the lookout to use materials that are as local and sustainable as possible. We appreciate methods that create jobs and increase the skills of the local population. If you know of any innovative ideas that you believe will work in the area, then please do not hesitate to contact us.