The NGO “Mwanza Rural Housing Programme” (MRHP) has been awarded the “Africa Award” worth £30,000 in the prestigious ‘Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy’ – a programme now in its 6th year. MRHP, who have been working in the area for 15 years, saw an urgent need to find a way to improve the quality of housing in the region without adding to the problems of severe deforestation by using traditional wood fired brick kilns. MRHP’s solution was a kiln using widely available agro waste including cotton waste, rice husks, coffee husks and in some cases sawdust as fuel source.

BricksBricks waiting to be fired (photos

Completed houseCompleted house using bricks fired in an MRHP designed kiln

To date MRHP has helped villagers to set up sustainable brick-making businesses by providing training and loans to build 50 kilns in various villages and one large permanent kiln. Together they have produced enough bricks to build an impressive 100,000 homes (1,500 in each of the 70 villages involved in the scheme). This has saved an estimated 1,500 kilo-tonnes of wood over five years.
Rice millers were persuaded by MRHP to use new machinery imported from China to produce better quality husks which have now gained value rather than being an unmanageable waste product. Not only has this project radically improved the quality of housing for 50% of the region’s inhabitants, it has also regenerated the region by employing several hundred largely unskilled youths in brick-making. There is now a thriving local industry in the area that has lifted people out of poverty and fostered a genuine entrepreneurial spirit that is spreading throughout the region.

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