Stabilised soil bricks for durable, low-income housing - Khartoum, Sudan

Stabilised soil bricks for durable, low-income housing - Khartoum, Sudan

Organization type: 
for profit
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are seeking to encourage low-income residents of Khartoum to use Stabilised Soil Bricks (SSBs) for house building rather than dried mud. Initially we will build a machine to press the bricks based on a design in use in Brazil. The next step is to make a range of bricks to test, varying the composition - which soil types to mix and in what proportions - in order to come up with the best local mixture. In keeping with the educational aims of our centre, university students will do the research under a Master's programme. A 'show home' along with a campaign to disseminate the advantages of SSBs and the results of our research will lead to people deciding to use SSBs. Finally, a micro-finance scheme will enable people to rent a press, make their own SSBs and build more durable houses.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Low income families: There are large areas on the outskirts of Khartoum inhabited by people displaced by the long conflict in the country living on very low incomes. Many of the houses are in poor repair and are damaged each rainy season. Providing these families with Sa durable construction material allows them to properly establish a residence and contributes to feelings of security and stability. Environment: The manufacture of SSBs is better for the environment than fired bricks as it neither contributes to de-forestation nor to air pollution. Also, the fact that people have proper homes allows them to look beyond their immediate needs to the wider environment and the impact they have on it.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Most of the housing for the lowest income residents of Khartoum is dried mud brick. Though these bricks are easy and cheap to make, they are not durable and most of the houses are significantly damaged or destroyed each year during the rainy season. This requires the householder to take time to repair or rebuild. It also means damaged home contents and has significant impacts on health and well-being. SSBs have much greater durability than dried mud and the type we will use also has the advantage of being very easy to use in construction. Those in higher income brackets use bricks made of fired clay. The firing process requires large amounts of wood, contributing to deforestation. Therefore, development agencies such as UNHabitat have been encouraging use of SSBs in Darfur (far from Khartoum) but there are virtually none in use in Khartoum. We think that if SSBs were taken on board in Khartoum, the technology would be much more likely to be accepted in the outlying provinces. Thus, use of SSBs across the country would increase reducing environmental impact of building and improving housing for the poorest. Another aspect of our project is to work closely with those already making the clay bricks to convince them of the advantages of SSBs. The labourers are on very low incomes and the working conditions are not healthy. If SSB production can replace clay, they can maintain their incomes while improving their health since they already have the supply chains and contacts for selling bricks. A crucial first step in all this is local research to prove efficacy of SSBs
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Since the project is still in the planning stages, we are only able to suggest how we plan to measure or identify success.There are milestones we have identified which will indicate success of different phases of the venture. First sign of success will be securing initial funding for making a brick press and obtaining enough equipment to allow a student to test the SSBs produced. Next will be actually finding, with proof, a good soil mixture from freely or cheaply available sources. Third will be having a 'show home' completed at NileCAT that provides an enduring sign of the success of SSBs in the Sudan. Fourth success marker is seeing homes built with SSBs in the Khartoum area. After that we would look for local people, either individuals or communities, getting or making presses and using SSBs for income generation. In addition, having SSB construction increasing outside of Khartoum. Finally, seeing SSBs as a mainstream construction option across the country would imply success. The above are relatively easy to observe but other success criteria are related to the people who live in the SSB houses. More durable bricks should mean less days missed from work during rainy season for issues of house repair. In addition, there should be more disposable income as more time is available for work. We would also look for health improvements amongst those labouring in brick manufacture as SSBs replace fired bricks as the normal construction material. To accurately measure this we would need some baseline testing at an early stage.
About You
Nile Centre for Alternative Techology
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Nile Centre for Alternative Techology

Organization Phone


Organization Address

PO Box 7275, 11123 Al Siteen, Khartoum

Organization Country


Country where this project is creating social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

While in Khartoum for the past 11 years, working, hoping and praying for healthy development of the Sudan, several threads have slowly been coming together as we observe and interact with life here. There is, in general, little care for the physical environment. High quality research is not widespread and many science and engineering graduates do not continue to work in their fields due to lack of opportunity. Local business is often not involved in encouraging local innovation by carrying out research and development.

These threads have led to the idea of the Nile Centre for Alternative Technology (NileCAT) which we are in the process of registering. This centre is being modelled on the Centre for Alternative Technology ( in the UK and will incorporate education, research and modelling of sustainable lifestyles.

We are seeking to encourage and support the healthy development of Sudan through such a centre by: helping to improve the scientific research base, currently considered key to development strategies; widening people's eyes to climate change issues and the need to actively care for the environment, something in its infancy in the Sudan but, we feel, a key uniting issue in a country that has many issues that could divide; promoting collaboration between private business, government and NGOs by opening doors for Sudanese young people to engage in locally relevant research that has an eye to a product which is commercially viable; being open with information and knowledge gained.

Our hope is that this will be good for the Sudan.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Tradition: People's willingness to change the way things have been done for years is crucial to obtain. The findings of the scientific research on SSBs, done locally, by local students needs to be communicated well and a 'show home' is worth a thousand words. The research must be rigorous and ethical so that conclusions hold weight.

Cost: For the lowest income bracket, anything other than the free mud bricks is difficult. Part of the overall project will involve micro-finance schemes. Several NGOs we are in contact with have experience with this in Sudan and are willing to assist. In addition, if SSB use increases there is potential for income generation for individuals or a community.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We see four distinct phases to the project, after funding is secured. The first is research leading to the best possible SSB from locally available material. This research is to be done by Sudanese graduate students supervised by NileCAT staff and will probably take from 6 months to a year. After the research phase comes implementation of a 'show home' and associated dissemination of the research. The 'show home' could be the NileCAT office but a building in a low income community would provide much greater exposure. The third phase, concurrent with the second, is growth in SSB use in and around Khartoum. Finally, this is probably in the third year at the earliest, individuals take up SSB production for income generation and leave Khartoum to make the technology available elsewhere.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

Much of this is hypothetical as we have not secured funding yet!
The university will pay for NileCAT staff to supervise the graduate students. In addition, rather than buy new test equipment, universities here may have what is needed and be willing for us to use it.

NGOs such as UNEP and UNHabitat have already been helpful in providing information on, for example, the SSB project in Darfur including some of its strengths and weaknesses.

Businesses have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments and, for example, the DAL Group CSR manager is confident that some funding is available. The DAL group also has equipment we might be able to borrow and could help with freighting larger things.

The Brazilian Embassy is interested in the project as the press we are going to use is of Brazilian design and this type of building is popular there. There is also a group encouraging collaboration between Sudan and Brazil and we have a Brazilian linked to NileCAT who is working on this option.

Though the lowest income customers would not be able to pay for using a press or for SSBs, micro-finance schemes should allow customers to pay. Especially if we look to community level use of a press to build a number of homes.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

Our hope is that the research will fairly quickly show SSBs to be a viable option here in Khartoum. It will be up to us to bring this evidence to the attention of the parties noted above and give them good reason for starting to support the project or continuing their support.

From NileCAT's point of view, handing over the technology to individuals and communities is our aim rather than continuing the project indefinitely. Therefore, we will encourage both environmental awareness and entrepreneurial thinking so that individuals will see the potential for the technology both within and outside of Khartoum.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Technology, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Citizen/community participation.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention
Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

We are actively working on partnering with the DAL Group which has many business holdings in Sudan. They have an active corporate social responsibility section.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

There is nothing established yet.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Corporate social responsibility department.