An Update from El Salvador

Marcelino Castro   

Las Mélidas – Certificates of Quality
On visits to nine MCR workshops, eight of which pertain to the Women´s Association “Las Mélidas”, five qualified for ECOSouth Certificates of Quality. The new workshops have the normal problems of beginners. Another workshop simply is notorious for its lack of interest in taking care of the equipment and tools.

 

Technical difficulties
The technical difficulties refer in some cases to the poor quality of the prime material (granularity of the sand, use of old cement) and in others an excessive use of water in the mixture.

Nevertheless, one can say that these problems are not critical, as it is obvious that the majority of workers have received good instruction about these themes. In each case specific recommendations were offered, focusing upon radical solutions to the problems.

Economic difficulties – marketing
The principal problem concerns sales to the public. In the great majority of cases the workshops have sold their tiles to development projects, which raises the question of long-term sustainability.

It is evident, however, that the workshops do take steps to develop a public profile, with signs at the workshops and along the roads. They have also participated in fairs and exhibitions. Some of the women feel that perhaps men do not want to buy tiles made by women.

Nevertheless, the general impression is that a good market exists for various types of tile roofs (baked clay or cement). Contrary to other places in Central America, it seems that the Salvadoranians have not allowed themselves to be so influenced by zinc and other roofing materials.

MCR Workshops
San Rafael Cedros has two vibrating tables and 500 moulds and has produced 30,000 tiles. The workshop is called “La Tejita” and employs four women. They work with sand of a rather fine granularity, something that should be improved. Nonetheless, it is one of the best workshops.

Delma y Otilio have one vibrating machine and 250 moulds. The owner works together with one helper and his wife takes care of the administration. They are well-experienced producers who formerly had a workshop that produced hand-made cement tiles. This MCR workshop operates on the basis of orders and most of its clients have been individuals. They have produced a little more than 15,000 tiles. This is one of the best workshops, very clean, tidy and well organized. However, they must find another site for the workshop, as it currently operates in the house in which they live and there are great space limitations.

El Canelo has two vibrating machines with 500 moulds and employs four female workers who are very enthusiastic. They have produced 35,700 tiles to date. It is among the three best workshops. The plot has limited space in which to storing the finished product and sand.
Tamanique, with one vibrating table and 350 moulds, and two well-trained women, has produced a total of 40,000 tiles to date. More than anyone else, these workers dominate the mixing process and the production of the tiles themselves. They work with sand of an almost ideal granularity and have achieved a mixture with low water content.

Jiquilisto has two vibrating tables and 320 moulds. Four women have produced a total of 48,000 tiles to date. It is important to extend the workshop in the direction of the storage room in order to better organize the production process.

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