We work with communities to build 7 integrated, complimentary and scalable programs designed to transform village life.
Programs are ‘what’ we are doing. They are an investment in people. They enable our mission. They are the work by which we are measured. And they are the basic building blocks for a better future. Our programs are designed to be sustainable and our results scalable to the entire community. Every program is community-led and made better through the long-term relationships at the heart of our work.
No one resource can unlock change, so we provide seven programs to strengthen a whole village. Our programming works together like the people building it. Bricks made through Building Better form the rainwater catchment tank walls for Water Security. Water stored in those tanks can then be processed through filters as part of our Clean Water programming. Grey water can then be used to micro-flush Improved Sanitation toilets. Together, they make a more whole, resilient, and sustainable village.
In Africa, there is often no water at home or school. Or anywhere near home or school. Usually, it is women that leave home, often with their children, and walk to find water for the household. When they leave to walk for water, they walk an average of 3.7 miles to collect it. Together, women in Sub-Saharan Africa spend 16 million hours a day providing water.
The Water Security Program is designed to make villages more resilient by creating secure and sustainable local water capacity.
We train communities to build their own water storage using custom-designed and government-approved rainwater catchment tanks. Each tank holds over 6,600 gallons (25,000 liters), is built with locally made curved bricks, and can provide year-round water for people and agriculture.
Globally, 1.6 billion people worldwide live in inadequate housing conditions. Village homes made with traditional wattle and daub construction, often have no defense against disease carrying mosquitos and flies and trap indoor cooking pollution. The only bricks commonly used are fired. Firing bricks emit climate-warming pollution and cause deforestation.
Building Better is foremost a program to promote the making of Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks to be used for construction.
These compressed bricks are made with soil, a stabilizer like cement, and pressure. They require no kiln or wood for firing. The bricks are made with soil, a stabilizer, and local labor to work the press. Stronger than clay bricks and produced on-site, they are used to build tanks, schools, and homes.
Good hygiene is a vital defense, especially in our partner countries, against the spread of diseases like Covid-19 and Ebola. But, more than 400 million people in Africa don’t wash hands with soap and water because they don’t have access to the resources.
Good hygiene seeks to promote the creation and wide-spread distribution of soap combined with effective hand-washing.
A $3.35 investment in hand-washing creates the same health benefits as over $100 in immunizations. We work with chemical engineers to determine soap formulas based on the local availability of ingredients and preferences of local culture. All soap is made and bottled locally. We invest in rigorous processes and testing to ensure soap meets specifications and is consistent.
Global warming, changing seasons, and unpredictable rainfall disproportionally impact villages in developing countries. Water sources are no longer sufficient, and those that exist are frequently shared between people and animals. Two billion people drink contaminated water every day.
Our 10-year-old clean water program focuses on the adoption and use of water filters in the household.
We use slow-sand and membrane filters to remove 99% of the pathogens from water. Filters, constructed on-site or purchased, produce at least 70 liters of clean water a day and last from 5-30 years depending on the model and type used.
3.6 billion people don’t have access to a safe toilet. Poor sanitation contaminates drinking-water sources, spreads diseases among the wider population. Just $1 invested in basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity.
We train communities to construct off-grid and odor-and-fly free composting toilets that naturally process waste.
The toilets, which can be constructed using our Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks, output pathogen-safe compost for agricultural use. The toilet creates uses a filter-digester for solids and liquids to separate. The liquid is processed naturally in
a sink hole or can be diverted to a container. The solids are composted by earthworms. The flushing and processing is accelerated using grey-water from a handle-less hand-washing container in the toilet.
Traditional cooking fires and smoke kill 4,000,000 people each year – more than the number that die from Malaria. They rely on large volumes of charcoal, wood, and kerosene fuels that pollute the lungs of women and young girls, and contribute to global warming.
Our Safe Cooking program helps communities transition from three-stone and other open cooking fires to much safer and efficient rocket stoves.
Rocket stoves produce 75% few emissions than an open fire and use up to 47% less fuel. Different models can be installed depending on the application, but all use a narrow combustion chamber and air inlet that produces intense heath and almost eliminates smoke and pollutants.
690 million people are chronically undernourished and 50% of them are farming families. A warming climate is changing not just when rains fall, but how much it rains. Deluges are becoming more common, and the water is not effectively being used for crop production.
We help people get the most from their small-plot gardens by sharing permaculture principals that empower households, increase yields up to 10x, and provide a dependable food source year round.
Gardens are positioned and dug using swales and berms to maximize rainwater capture and storage. Soil is ammended with organic material to enhance fertility and water retention. Then, seeds are then planted to maximize crop diversity. The agridiversity made possible with year-round gardens enhances nutrition for the family.