Training in construction to support the socio-economic reintegration of returnees to Burundi

03 January 2023

Since 2020, the Luxembourg Red Cross Humanitarian Aid has been supporting the Burundi Red Cross in the implementation of a project to improve the resilience of vulnerable populations to natural hazards in Gashoho, in the province of Muyinga in Burundi. This project is being carried out with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Luxembourg donors in the framework of the support to the socio-economic reintegration of returnees in this province.

During this programme, 370 houses equipped with latrines, a kitchen, an improved fireplace and a rainwater collection tank were built for the most vulnerable populations of the Gashoho commune.

To support the Muyinga branch of the Red Cross and increase its capacity to build more resilient housing, three presses for making compressed earth bricks were provided. In November and December 2022, 16 Red Cross volunteers were trained in its use by architect and earth building expert María Brown Birabén. Over a three-week period, the trainees learned how to analyse the quality of the soil, prepare the appropriate mixes and produce strong bricks that can withstand the increasingly frequent weather conditions in the region. This training gave the 16 volunteers access to an ECVET certificate (European Credit for Vocational Education and Training).

André Baragunzwa, bénéficiaire de la formation sur la construction en Brique de Terre Compressée

André Baragunzwa, a participant of the Compressed Earth Brick (C.E.B.) construction training, explains: “Before, I did not know what could cause a bad brick, nor how to guarantee the durability and stability of the shelter built.” He proudly highlights: “The certification I have obtained will allow me to be ranked among those who know how to make earthen constructions on an international level. I will be able to earn an income while assisting communities in need of housing. By learning how to analyse the earth and use the presses, I will be able to make strong bricks while preserving the environment and using existing and accessible natural resources“.

As André explains, in addition to supporting humanitarian housing, the Burundi Red Cross actions have an environmental dimension. Earthen construction is a building technique with a very low carbon footprint and high thermal inertia, and it helps to avoid deforestation. Various additional activities are also being implemented to reduce the risk of natural disasters, such as planting fixing trees and fodder grasses, building bypass canals, tapping some 20 springs and raising the population’s awareness of community planning for disaster risk reduction.

Listen to André’s testimony (in French):