Healthy and affordable floors with a new cement-free technology

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Local news, 19.07.2019

At the “Swiss Youth and Future prize 2019” competition, an innovative project won the first prize: “Oxara”, a spin-off from former students of the ETH Zürich developed a solution to produce a poured earth concrete by using the landfill waste that is locally available. The idea is simple and competitive. The Oxara earth concrete has all the advantages of concrete, is 2.5 times cheaper and 20 times more ecofriendly.

Kigali, Rwanda – A new technology allows to produce an affordable and sustainable cement-free material from landfill waste. The potential of this innovation is huge, especially as a solution to replace dusty and unsanitary floors in rural houses by high-quality and accessible materials. The installation of earthen floors is cheaper, more eco-friendly than conventional concrete and has significant health benefits (e.g. reducing diarrhea by 50% and parasitic infections by 80%).

Concrete, the most used building material worldwide, is responsible for 30% of global CO2 emission and 1/3 of global energy consumption. While erecting a building 50% of waste excavation materials is landfilled. In addition to the climate benefits and circular economy, the technology could enable access to affordable housing to 2 billion people in need of decent homes around the world.

Rwanda is one of the pilot countries where the technology will be tested in partnership with “EarthEnable”, a Rwandan NGO founded in 2013 with a mission to improve health at an affordable cost. To date, 75% of Rwandan families live in dirty homes due to lack of good floor. About 8,500 people are already served with EarthEnable solution in over three hundred villages in three districts (Rwamagana, Kayonza and Kamonyi).

Reducing the environmental impact of the construction material sector and contributing to affordable housing solutions are two important topics for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The “PROECCO” program (Promoting off-farm employment and income through climate responsive construction material production) supports a modern brick production with an environmental-friendly technology in the Great Lakes region.