By Aisha Nanyonjo
There has been an increment in annual loss of primary forest cover and tree cover for Uganda. In 2017, primary forest loss was at 29,779 and in 2018 it increased to 86,461 and in total from 2001 -2018 tree cover loss has been at 742,268 on a scale of 30% in hectares .
This rapid increase of deforestation has caused a number of environmental problems such as devastating impacts of climate change ,soil degradation reduced biodiversity, loss of recreation, loss of biological diversity and more. In bididi refugee settlement people cut trees to burn bricks because they have to construct houses to live in and this forces them to practice deforestation
In a move to protect destruction of trees in the name of getting wood for a brick for construction, Mercy Corps International Organization with support from UK Aid and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is implementing a new innovation of making interlocking sustainable soil bricks. These are made with soil, little sum of water and cement, then covered and they dry.
When making local bricks they use soil and water but they need firewood to dry and make the bricks stronger and this leads to deforestation and this situation has been experienced in bidi bidi refugee settlement.
Isabirye Emmanuel the assistant trainer explains the whole process of making the interlocking bricks.
In an interview with Ms. Prisca Ageno, the Civil Engineer at Mercy Corps, she reveals that interlocking bricks play a great role in the prevention of deforestation in a way that; instead of burning bricks, interlocking bricks require only a mixture of sand, gravel, cement and little water.
She further reveals that the interlocking bricks are also cost effective when it comes to construction in a way that , it does not require transport costs since the bricks are made on site, easy to install during the wall construction in a way that bricks are just fixed and they interlock and does not require any cement.
Speaking to Adyak Sandiego from mercy corps the program assistant for subgrants he says that. these blocks conserve the environment because they don’t need baking and drying with firewood
He adds that the same innovations are done in zone 4 in bidi bidi and rhino camp and the refugees are trained how to make these bricks and are assured of jobs after the entire process of the training
Impact of the Interlocking bricks technology to the environment
According to Ageno, there is no more need to cut down trees for burning bricks for building permanent houses if all people embrace this innovation.
Ageno attributes the reason as to why the project was started at Bidibidi Zone 3 refugee resettlement as a need to spearhead the campaign against rampant tree cutting for burning bricks.
“There was need to inform them that there are other alternatives of building permanent houses without using burnt bricks which eventually contribute to the destruction of the environment,” .
She adds that there have been complaints during shelter meetings by most of the shelter partners and right now most constructions are delaying because of lack of construction blocks. There are no more trees to be cut down for burning of bricks