With a war raging through its land, ten years ago and counting for the latest battle, it’s any wonder that this country is regularly missed with the eco-scope of environmentalists worldwide. Being the 41st largest nation and with about 28 million people (Wikipedia, 2011), it’s cause enough for one to be curious as to what they are doing on the environmental front. Sure, Afghanistan is no modern, westernized piece of land of which technology, consumerism and all things man-made rule society, but we all know – every little bit helps.
Afghanistan is considered impoverished and “one of the world’s poorest” (Wikipedia, 2011) countries. As its “unemployment rate is 35% and roughly the same percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line,” it comes as no surprise to hear that “about 42 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day” (Wikipedia, 2011). And as such, this brings a glaring question to the forefront – how does a country whose primary concern is simply on surviving through another day, possibly make headway on any environmental idea?
By keeping things simple.
Many Afghanis are turning to the very soil they stand on in order to create the buildings they live in. And they’re not alone. “One half of the world’s population, approximately 3 billion people on six continents, lives or works in buildings constructed of earth” (Rael, 2010). And now there is a company to help make that more. Afghan Earth Works is a non-profit organization that’s mission is simple. They aim to “create valued, decently paid jobs; to show how earth, the most readily available material, may be used to create comfortable buildings which their occupants will cherish and that they can repair themselves; and to teach updated construction methods so that the buildings are both durable in Afghanistan’s harsh climate, and safe in the earthquakes which periodically devastate parts of the country” (Afghan Earth Works). So, with buildings the people in Afghanistan can afford, construct themselves and trust they’ll hold up, it’s complete bonus to also realize that the very basic act of using the soil under their feet to create these bricks is actually very eco-friendly as well.
These compacted earth-made bricks are eco-friendly because “they are low carbon, use local materials and need far less energy than kiln-fired bricks. As an added bonus, they are cheap, easy to make and easy to build with. The bricks are made using soil and a little cement or lime. The machine used to make the bricks is self-powered, so it is able to be used in areas without electricity supply” (Rael, 2010). Not to mention, there is no need for cement to secure them in place as the bricks can be slotted together using a tongue-and-groove method.
Right, so somehow a country that is ravaged by a continuous on slot of wars, natural disasters, poverty and anything else that can be thrown their way, is still able to come up with a simple solution to help make the world a better place. I wonder if the rest of us can say the same.
To find out more about Afghan Earth Works and what they do, visit them online at www.afghanearthworks.com
Afghan Earth Works. (n.d.). Welcome. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Afghan Earth Works: http://www.afghanearthworks.com/Afghan_Earth_Works/Welcome.html
Masters, D. (2008, March 26). Afghanastians’ Eco-Friendly Reconstruction. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Fair Home: http://www.fairhome.co.uk/2008/03/26/afghanistans-eco-friendly-reconstruction/
Rael, R. (2010, December 14). Afghanastan. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Earth Architecture: http://www.eartharchitecture.org/index.php?/categories/9-Afghanistan
Wikipedia. (2011, October 1). Afghanastan. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan