Brick-making time.

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With the rains gone, residents in Lilongwe’s poor settlements have started making bricks. While some are burnt in (inefficient) kilns, most are simply sun-dried given the lack and expense of firewood and charcoal. Unburnt bricks are used by the poor to build homes and add to existing houses, often with the view of renting the new space to newcomers to the area. In Malawi, structures made using sun-dried bricks are considered ‘semi-permanent’, and the poor using the bricks the know it. The poor quality of the bricks, including significant differences in brick sizes, make for generally poor housing, with the rainy season in particular taking a toll on homes built using them. Alas, when the goal is a roof over your head, many have little choice but to go with what is available. That said, it is possible to make durable sun-dried bricks (also known as adobe bricks), and as such one way to improve the housing of the urban (and indeed rural) poor in Malawi would be to disseminate knowledge on better, but equally affordable, brick-making techniques.

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