This June, the National Construction Industry Council of Malawi published regulations that will aim to promote the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials in Malawi. Part of this regulation strictly prohibits the traditional fire cured brick method.

This ban is something we at The Mlambe Project have been pushing for since we first came to Malawi.

Why is it needed?

The fire curing method has been a cause of mass deforestation in Malawi. Mud bricks are burnt with fire wood to make them stronger, a process that can take up to 24 continuous hours and an enormous amount of wood.

These pictures show the shocking amount of fire wood needed to burn the bricks (on the right of each picture) using the traditional fire curing method.

On top of this, the population in Malawi is increasing at an alarming rate and since wood is depended on as cooking fuel for the majority of residents, the environment is struggling to keep up with the growing demand on its natural resources.

One of the central dangers of deforestation to countries and climates like Malawi is the adverse weather shocks that can occur as a result. Cutting down trees harms the ecosystem irrevocably and has a negative impact on local climates and rainfall.
 You can read more about these devastating climate effects here.

Sustainable building has been core to The Mlambe Project since we started and we are absolutely delighted to have been a part of the movement that has led to this ban.

For five years, we have been building with Earthbags, working hard to both perfect the technique and promote its use across the country. Building with Earthbags comprises filling locally available maize or rice sacks with clay and sand soil and as such has a minimal impact on the environment.

Steven and Geoffrey, Earthbag Project Managers.
Steven and Geoffrey, Earthbag Project Managers.

What does this mean for us?

The Malawian governments’ new regulation and their prohibition of such an environmentally devastating building method highlights a demand for sustainable building techniques and shows that an organisation such as The Mlambe Project can really thrive.

It is our dream to become a fully sustainable building organisation, both so our Expert builders can continue to use their skills and become self-sufficient as a building company, and also to promote the use of environmentally-friendly building techniques across Malawi.

This year is looking to be a very big year for The Mlambe Project. Now that we have perfected building with Earthbags, we hope to expand our skills to start building with Stabilised Soil Blocks (SSBs) – an alternative sustainable building technique.

Stabilised Soil Bricks (SSBs)

Watch this space!

Following this exciting development from the government, we expect to see a lot of interest coming our way and we cannot wait to share our knowledge with everyone. Watch this space!