There is no question that Haiti needs better cement-based building products. The need for better concrete is reason that we discusses this issue on this blog and on Facebook.
We are happy to be joined by others in the effort to improve concrete construction in Haiti, because nobody wants a repeat performance from Haiti’s bad concrete in the future.
Cemex, one of the world’s largest cement providers and CHF International have joined forces to train young Haitian’s to make better concrete blocks.
Ignacio Muñoz, Director General of CEMEX in Haiti, suggests that traditional block production is inconsistent and of low quality. “This is the problem. You have to teach them to do things with exact measurements,” he says, emphasizing the importance also of using good quality water and sand in the cement mix. “This is one of the biggest challenges for the rebuilding of the country for the future,” he says.
We agree that using batch-style mixing with measured recipes is the most important component of any training program and the key to improving consistency in block production.
The effort to increase education and to provide better technology is beginning to take shape around the country. One of the nice features of the Cemex/CHF program is that they give some of the graduates a bicycle powered mixer to use. This is a good first-step to replace the common practice of mixing materials on the ground.
Some of these new Haitian entrepreneurs will be able to peddle their little mixers to a better life.
Bicycle powered small mixers are a good start, but the next step should be to help them move up into some serious block production equipment. By using larger volume mixers and proper forming machines they will really provide everyone with better economic security.
When they use a proper recipe and blend the material in a robust mechanical device and then compress the blocks correctly, they will produce stronger blocks that will result in sustainable construction.
We certainly advocate more training and better equipment to be used in the rebuilding effort for Haiti. We commend the various groups for doing something to change the culture. These little bicycle mixers will certainly be an exercise in physical endurance and will move block quality in the right direction.
CementTrust believes that more can be done to improve the block production capabilities of Haiti than just giving away a few little mixers. Haitian’s should be trained in using robust mixers and effective hydraulic block machines. These machines are needed to produce a quality product and in a quantity that will make a real difference in the safety of the structures.
Until they get serious about concrete block production in Haiti, we are just peddling hard without getting very far down the road to recovery.
What else should be done to make difference in the construction methods in Haiti?