Local Block Production

Locals trained in CSSB production removing a freshly compressed block from the machine

Given the need for cost-effective, disaster-resilient construction materials and the lack of skilled manpower in Dhungentar, establishing a local production site for interlocking compressed stabilised soil blocks (CSSBs) was appropriate. (Click here to learn more about the CSSB technology and its suitability for reconstruction in Dhungentar.) 

Six machines were procured from Habitech Center, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand—developers of this interlocking technology—and a local production site was set up. With technical support from Innovative Design Concern (INDECO), a five-day training programme (followed by an 11-day supervision phase) was organized for 22 local participants (3 male, 19 female) from all cluster villages of Dhungentar. This launched the reconstruction activities in the settlement and initiated local participation in the project’s development activities. 

The participants were instructed on production procedures and trained regarding machine operation and maintenance. By the end of this training programme, this trained local workforce produced 4,695 CSSBs for local construction and continued production for five months. They were also involved in the construction of two full-scale model houses in Dhungentar. (Click here to learn more about the integrated environment-friendly system installed in one of these model houses.) 

However, these trainees were unable to continue this production for a sustained period because of social restraints and the short-term nature of the work. Masons from other districts then took over production and construction activities. The project plans to create a local cooperative and hand over ownership of this block production site. The enterprise will be supported initially to establish market linkages, and this cooperative can then organise production and offer stable employment opportunities to locals. 

By training and mobilising locals in the production and construction processes, this project not only reduced costs for households but also presented the community with an enterprise that can generate employment opportunities.

Hear from the people 

"I didn’t even know how to use a shovel when I went for the block production training. They said we should learn how to make these blocks and that we would get them for free to build our houses. So I went. We were mostly women there as the men were away working. In 20 days, I slowly learned about the process and about all the materials needed. Then for around two months, we made those blocks every day. It became quite easy after a point. We made up to 500–600 blocks a day. I was one of the faster ones there. The blocks you see in my house—I probably made them! Having been involved in the process, I think they’re quite strong. But who knows how strong the next earthquake will be!"
- Sunita Mijar, Ratamate

CSSB production process

Gallery

Soil particles being sieved at the production site
Mixture of sand, soil, and cement being placed into a machine for compression
Wet curing of the blocks, which takes 21 days 
CSSBs being passed by trained locals for storage 
CSSBs being used in construction in Dhungentar 
A house in Mathillo Dhand constructed using the interlocking CSSB technology