A Clean Water and Sanitation Solution and More!

It’s estimated that two billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and nearly four billion are without safely managed sanitation services. It’s almost impossible to wrap your head around such large numbers.

The lack of safe water impacts every aspect of daily life. Mothers must rely on using contaminated water or risking their lives traveling long, unsafe distances to collect well water for their families. Clean water scarcity exposes billions of people to water-borne illnesses. In addition, the combination of poor sanitation and hygiene and unsafe drinking water is responsible for the deaths of more than 700 children under five who die from diarrhoeal diseases every day.

Finding economical and sustainable solutions is a massive undertaking. Fortunately, the use of Interlocking Stabilized Soil Block (ISSB) technology is making a noticeable impact in developing a clean water supply and sanitation service in many locations around the globe. That alone would be exciting news, but making it even better is realizing that ISSB technology has applications in many other situations plaguing developing countries.

What is ISSB Technology?

ISSB technology, also known as Interlocking Compressed Earth Blocks (ICEBs), uses soil that’s usually mixed with cement, water, and other additives to make bricks. The concept of making blocks by compacting earth or mixing it with stabilizing supplements isn’t new; it goes back thousands of years. 

The process evolved with the development of a press in the 20th century, which compresses the mixture. Then, the bricks are laid with mortar in a staggered pattern, much like other types of masonry. Today, there are multiple motor-driven and manual presses to produce these durable bricks that can be used in small and industrial projects.

Economic and Environmental Advantages of ISSB Technology

ISSB technology addresses both environmental and economic challenges of traditional burned/fired bricks for construction projects. Producing traditional fired bricks causes severe deforestation because trees are needed for firewood to bake traditional bricks. ISSBs are cured in the sun, requiring no trees.

The double-interlocking system for the blocks, in which ridges on each block fit into slots of corresponding blocks, increases the structural stability of built walls while reducing the amount of cement needed as mortar. In addition, ISSB are made onsite, reducing transportation and construction costs. Because the blocks need no curing time, construction can be accomplished much faster, also saving money. 

Multiple Uses for ISSB Technology

ISSBs are incredibly versatile and can construct projects that provide clean water, hygiene, and sanitation solutions, and more.

Rainwater Harvest Tanks

An excellent example is the use of ISSB to build rainwater harvest tanks. A rainwater harvest tank made using the ISSB method is stabilized by compression, cementation, and interlocks. The blocks have a high soil-to-cement ratio and can bear significant loads. Each tank is almost 10 inches thick, has steel wire mesh providing structural strength, and is seated on a reinforced concrete base, approximately a foot deep. 

ISSB technology also provides significant cost savings. For instance, a rainwater harvest tank built with an ISSB hand press is 17 percent less expensive than fired brick water tanks and less costly than plastic water tanks. Each tank takes around 18 days to build, including brick making and cement curing time, lowering construction labor costs. The tanks can last 25 years or more, are easy to maintain, and if a crack happens, can be repaired inexpensively.

Thirst Relief has built more than 100 rainwater harvest tanks, delivering clean water that keeps people healthy and safe, saves money, and provides employment opportunities. 

Additional Construction Projects

The eco-friendly building method is also used to construct ecosan toilet structures that ensure safety and sanitation stations that promote life-saving hygiene practices.

The skills used for ISSB, coupled with simple welding techniques, can also be used to construct solid structures to provide safe housing for the homeless, secure buildings for small businesses and schools. 

ISSB Technology Creates Jobs

ISSB technology helps create jobs for local laborers to build and repair structures. The skills learned from working on building a rainwater tank, for example, can be used to build other structures in the community. Providing employment and economic opportunities helps communities thrive. 

You Can Make a Difference

The Thirst Relief team and its partners are committed to working tirelessly to bring clean water and sanitation solutions to the communities where it’s most needed. When you support our organization, you help grow our mission and enhance our impact. 

Your support enables mothers to provide their families with clean water and proper hygiene practices to keep them safe when you give. Local residents can seize job opportunities to escape poverty. Children can grow to be strong and healthy. There are multiple ways to help our cause, including fundraisers, sponsorship, and more. Ready to help make a difference?