Guba is building stronger communities…one brick at a time!
Gundie Mhlongo and Mlungisi Maseko from Mahlanya, are currently participants in Guba’s building resilient communities training project. For the past three months, they have been learning how to build houses using natural building techniques, including making strong foundations with reduced amounts of cement, making & building with earth bricks and using lime instead of cement plaster.
To make earth bricks, one must first mix together soil, sand, grass and water. The resulting mixture is then formed into bricks using a simple mold you can design to meet your needs. The bricks are then shaded with grass so that they dry out slowly and harden without cracking.
When tested, the bricks Guba is making tend to be as strong, sometimes stronger, than conventional cement bricks. All they need is to be stacked somewhere weatherproof when finished & they require a little more care to prevent the edges from being chipped when being used to build with.
There are many advantages to using earth bricks over more common building materials. There are usually almost no transport costs, as the materials needed are natural and the correct type of soil is often found close to or on the building site. Earth bricks reduce the occurrence of mould inside the house, are extremely fire resistant and completely non-toxic. Earth brick walls regulate temperature by keeping houses cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. They are also much better for the environment than more common building materials, as a lot less energy is required to produce them.
Mhlongo and Maseko say their favorite things about building with earth bricks are that the materials are free and it’s easy to learn the techniques. Maseko adds, “I’m happy about coming to Guba because they eat very healthy food. I used to never eat greens without boiling them first, but now I’m trying to eat more fresh food at home and am teaching my family too.”
Mhlongo and Maseko are learning at Guba that permaculture is a way of life that includes how we build and the materials we use; what we eat and how we grow nutritious food; and the importance of working together to grow ourselves and build stronger communities.