Lalibela HCB Production Project for Low Cost Houses
Lalibela, considered to be a “town of contrast”, where a very few people enjoys a luxury life (owning a modern hotel at their early ages, having a couple of cars, counting every day bulk of foreign cash…) while there are many more people who are suffering from hunger, being jobless and homeless. This case is even worse for the elderly people who don’t have anyone on behalf of them.
And the mountainous feature of the town and the difficulties to find raw material collectively make housing a major problem in the town especially for the very low income portion of the society. Even the few people who are able to build their house are supposed to cut the Eucalyptus trees from the surrounding mountains and letting exposed those mountains to flood and erosion. So, more than 95% of the houses in the town are from Eucalyptus walls including the 29 house we built for elderly people (having an average of 4 family members each) who were displaced from an old village.
There are still thousands of people who are being homeless and asking the PBF to build them a house; there are people who spent the day on the streets and sleep at night covering plastic sheet.
Though, it is impossible to solve all this kind of requests, the PBF decided to contribute its share to some extent with the principle of “Low Cost Houses”. The PBF organized a group of 7 young members some of them are Vocational college graduates in the field of construction. But those people were jobless for years as this is the case for most Lalibeleans. The PBF offered them a Hollow Blocks producing Machine by which they can produce about 2,400 blocks a day from a ratio of “more sand and very little amount of cement”. The PBF is working with this group in a principle of ‘mutual benefit’; other than the machine, the PBF will again offer this group raw materials (sand and cement) for the first time to get started and then afterwards the group will provide blocks freely for the PBF whenever the PBF plans to build low cost houses for the homeless people (so the PBF will no more incur too much funds to build a house if it gets the blocks freely by only providing the raw material). And the group would earn a sustainable income from selling blocks for other outside customers. In the past, people are supposed to bring blocks from the capital Addis which is about 700Kms with an expensive price. So people now can have blocks with cheaper prices and the group members will keep getting remarkable income as this is the only Blocks producing group with a very good machine in the town.
This is the way of integrating PBF’s projects with an intention of bringing a sustainable change to the community. Building an ordinary house with the proposed blocks is about 35-40% much cheaper than building with the Eucalyptus trees. And by doing this, we could build not only many houses but also we are protecting the environment from cutting the trees by which the people used to build their house.