Description of Challengen The Gambia deforestation is a major environmental challenge; sand mining is causing an ecological disaster. Cement manufacture is a highly polluting process and cement importation is the cause of a big loss of national resources. Reforestation has not begun in earnest and in 10 years there will be virtually no forest left and sea level rise will overwhelm sand depleted beaches and the communities that lie behind them. Metal and imported wood will be beyond the means of local people.
Using natural materials” used to mean using more wood; today it means using less cement.
Sandele Eco-Retreat and Learning Centre was constructed with low embodied energy and a small ecological footprint using an imported compressed, stabilised earth block (CSEB) machine. The machine is highly versatile (70 different shapes and sizes of blocks can be made); it is portable (transferable on the back of a pick up); it is manually operated (no electricity or generator needed); it generates employment (8 people employed per machine); it uses 2½ less cement than locally made blocks; it is relatively inexpensive ($8-10,000). Because of demand for this technology a separate company was set up. Many community and socially beneficial buildings have been constructed and a low cost show house is currently (June 2015) being built. The challenge has been met!