Innovating and offering skills training in Sri Lanka

Good news spreads fast in Thushanthini’s village of Navagirinagar, located in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. So, of course, in February 2018, the talk of the town was her newly constructed Habitat home made from compressed stabilized earth blocks or CSEBs.

“Ours was the first CSEB home in our tightly knit community,” Thushanthini says. “Many of my neighbors came to visit us out of curiosity about this new material. Once they saw how versatile the bricks are and how nice they look even without plastering, the CSEBs became a popular selection for home construction.”

CSEBs are among the eco-friendly construction materials and technologies promoted under Habitat Sri Lanka’s Homes not Houses project, funded by the European Union. The blocks are known for their lower environmental impact and their ability to keep a house cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. As of May 2021, more than 2,360 homes have been completed as part of the initiative.

The blocks have the added benefit of boosting the local economy. Thushanthini’s husband, Mathivathanan, was among 138 people trained to produce CSEBs and build with them through Habitat Sri Lanka’s partnership with World Vision Sri Lanka.

With a grant provided as part of the project, Mathivathanan bought a hand-operated machine for producing CSEBs and a mold for making decorative bricks that also help improve ventilation. He and the other trainees now supply their handmade materials to construction projects in the community.

Thushanthini’s house has grown into a true home. In the evening, she and her family often sit together on the veranda to watch the sun set. “This home is my most precious possession,” she says.

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