July 2003

Decoding empirical knowledge : investigation about plastering clay walls in Latin America

Kurt Rhyner   

Plastering clay walls is an ancient art in Latin America, and the technique and expertise are in the hands of rural masons, who KNOW how to ensure that plaster adheres to the wall. Grupo Sofonias thought it worthwhile to seek out scientific material to “decode” this empirical knowledge.

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Training important in CHP activities

Along with trainees from the Vocational Training Centers, people from other parts of Namibia are able to learn at the Clay House Project. Recently the Municipality of Outapi sent two builders to be trained in clay building and tile-making. Another trainee is on his way from the Kaprivi area in the north of the country. A local producer of building materials in Otjiwarongo sent an employee to learn tile-making in order to begin MCR production.

Read more: Training important in CHP activities

SIRDC to host national MCR workshop in September

The SIRDC Building Technology Institute will host a national workshop on MCR tiles on September 19, 2003 in Harare. The workshop targets prospective house owners and builders, building cooperatives, property developers, local authorities, building societies and banks, as well as architects, engineers and other building trade professionals.

Read more: SIRDC to host national MCR workshop in September

Clay houses now with metal roof structures

Joss Meyer   

In 2002 when the rainy season started, we couldn’t roof some of the new houses as we had been waiting about six weeks for the wood for the roof structure. Due to this delay some of the houses had to be plastered three times, because the rain washed the new plaster away.

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News - July 2003

New equipment bank in Guatemala
Long-time MCR producer Emiliano Armira has taken on the responsibility of managing the new equipment bank in Guatemala. Equipment is available to new producers, but also to current producers who may want to expand or update their workshops. In Guatemala some workshops have been producing successfully since 1989, and managed to make inroads into the private market. The quality of tiles throughout the country is close to excellent, and the market situation is stable.

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South-south interchanges: MCR equipment arrives in Columbia
The arrival of the equipment was the first step, then a technician from the Columbian Foundation for Natural Construction Processes (PROCONAT) will travel to Techo Fácil in Ecuador and afterwards there will be a full MCR course in Columbia. These were the key points of discussion between EcoSur y PROCONAT. This foundation has working relations with the Columbian technical institution “Constructors for the Future” and the cooperative “CONSTRUIR”, organizations involved in capacitation, not only in the technical field to improve the quality of construction, but also in the development of human resources. We hope that the planned interchanges will benefit all organizations.

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CIDEM professor provides expertise in Bangladesh
A challenging metal roof structure for MCR tiles is to be built in Dahka through DUS-Bangladesh. This dynamic organization began MCR tile production in the year 2000 with EcoSouth training and is now taking a great leap forward with this roof. It is an immense structure 2500 m2 that requires expertise beyond local possibilities. Thus, DUS-Bangladesh director, Modal Hakim, recurred to EcoSouth for assistance. Professor Nolasco Ruiz from CIDEM drew up the plans in consultation with Dahka architect Dr. Ahmed Iftekhar and is currently onsite in Dahka.

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Javier GilJavier Gil
Topography Engineer, Spain
Spanish, english, french
Project management, construction, budgeting, training


In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.