EcoMaterials in Bolivia

Kurt Rhyner   

The distribution policy and market opening for natural gas recently has caused much instability in Bolivia and led the government to resign. Its specially this natural gas that has allowed burnt clay products to over the market. Large manufacturers are producing high quality industrial clay goods, and really attractive bricks and clay roofing tiles at affordable prices. In growing areas like “El Alto” near the Capital of La Paz a high number of two and three stories houses are visible with an overwhelming intense red color. An interesting aspect is that they are not built with a lot of concrete columns, they use buttresses. This creates a lively and interesting architecture. It also increases security aspects during a earthquake, something very important considering the really thin walls they build.


Tarija, situated in the south of the republic, is one of the centers of brick and tile production. The foundation “Pro Habitat” works in this area, helping the population in the construction and improvement of their houses. Pro Habitat has specialized in construction with clay and tiles and have good reputation for their program in prevention of the “mal de chagas” plague. It is interesting that this terrible illness can be prevented by applying a good lime-plaster and closing all the holes in the ceiling. Lime is not only a good agglomerate, it also is attractive on the walls and keeps the insects away. Pro Habitat is considering the introduction of TMC in their programs, as well as production of CP-40 (puzolanic cement) with the huge amounts of waste from the brick production (which are excellent puzzolanas). Also the vaulted ceiling slabs of micro concrete are an interesting option.

A large discussion about natural puzolanas took place after a presentation at the university about Ecomaterials and, in the meantime, a sample of this puzolana has been taken to the laboratories of CIDEM to be investigated.

In the past engineer Jose Luis Pereira had introduced Micro Concrete Roofing tiles in Bolivia, and during this visit from EcoSouth, an analysis was made as to why wide-spread dissemination of the technology did not occur. It appears that the NGOs that tried production never really made a serious attempt. Jose Luis, now director of ANED, an organization that facilitates financing to small producers, is still convinced of the material and there has been a cooperation agreement signed for a larger cooperation between ANED and Grupo Sofonias, to offer credits, technical training and follow up with small entrepreneurs. A young civil engineer is doing his masters thesis on the theme of MCR, and among others activities is updating an earlier market study.

A presentation at the University Mayor in La Paz attracted a large audience of students, professionals and professors. On a Friday night (an unusual time for classes) more than 30 post-graduate students found their way to the laboratories for a practical class, looking at the entire process of making MCR tiles.

You are here: Home Past editions Edition #1, January 2004 EcoMaterials in Bolivia


Fernando Martirena
Civil Engineer, PhD. Professor.
Spanish, English, German.
Research and investigation of materials, specifically alternative cement and cement products.


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