A Concrete Plan

What is the development impact of concrete?

Cement Trust suggests that the concrete construction supply chain can be the single most important economic advancement program available for developing countries of the world.

* Concrete is the second most consumed product on earth, after water*. Yet by comparison, concrete construction represents millions of more jobs and a much greater economic return than water. In fact, sustainable water projects rely heavily on concrete for storage, distribution and reclamation.Concrete used in economic development

* There are nearly 3 tons of concrete produced each year for every human on the planet, making it the most used man-made product in the world. Concrete production and concrete construction have an impact on almost every facet of human existence.

* Concrete usage is two-times more than wood, steel, plastic and aluminum combined. When you consider it, there are not many structures that don’t include some type of cement-based building product.

* Construction jobs in the US represent approximately 6% of employment or around 9,000,000 jobs**. Because concrete touches almost every aspect of construction, a large percentage of these jobs are supported by concrete.

* The concrete supply chain reaches well beyond construction to include mining, equipment, transportation and industrial sectors of every economy.

In the industrialized world the concrete supply chain works as a massive economic engine and job creator. It is easy to overlook the use of concrete in our society because many tons of concrete lay buried in foundations or support structures. Even so, concrete plays a vital part in our daily lives as we walk and drive on its strong support.

The benefits of concrete to society are immense, being used to build our schools, hospitals, apartment blocks, bridges, tunnels, dams, sewage systems, pavements, runways, roads and more. It is the foundation of homes of every design and size. It is cast into solid shapes to form blocks, bricks, panels and beams. We use it for both simple decoration and critical protection from the elements. Yet, in the international development world it hardly gets a mention, compared to water or HIV/aids or sanitation issues.

There are many organizations that are experts in disaster response, health remediation, food distribution and temporary housing. Unfortunately a solid, safe and sustainable concrete supply chain system has few champions in the development community.

Cement Trust believes that international development experts are overlooking a hidden economic giant. By working to build a solid concrete supply chain we will expand the opportunities for employment, create more sustainable structures, and raise the economic energy of the poorest nations of the world. We are committed to building a coalition of like-minded experts in mining, distribution, manufacturing and construction to assist in the effort to make concrete as trustworthy in Haiti as it is in Houston.


Because Haiti is the current focus of our efforts, we have prepared a simple document that outlines a few opportunities for developing concrete’s economic power in Haiti.

Click HERE

Download the Economic Development Plan, built upon concrete enterprises.


Read the Prescription for curing poverty


Bruce Christensen is the author at CementTrust

7 Responses to A Concrete Plan

  1. harvey says:

    The problem with the ban the shovels concept is historical evidence shows that it isn’t accurate. I live in Texas. I was born and raised in Arizona. I lived in California for many years. In all of these locations there is old concrete that is still viable that was made without a mixer. It was done by workers using shovels to measure the ingredients.

    The difference between that good concrete and the concrete that failed in Haiti had nothing to do with shovels and everything to do with appreciating the importance of the recipe. Haitians are no different from my father and grandfather when it comes to making concrete. They do the best they can with the knowledge they have. Suggesting the only way Haitians can have good concrete is with a concrete mixer infers Haitians are different from Americans before Americans had portable concrete mixers. That’s wrong.

  2. cementtrust says:

    Thank you for joining the discussion and providing our insights. I agree that there have been successful concrete construction projects that have used the shovel mixing method.

    For us the shovel represents a system that is broken in the least developed countries of the world. The problem starts with poverty and ends with random construction results. Your point concerning the recipe is spot-on in most cases.

    There are many ideas offered to change concrete production, but until we start fixing the consistency issues, the random quality represented by the shovels will rule the day. We have chosen to “blame the shovels” rather than the people. This is our way of highlighting the issue and moving the discussion toward improving the concrete supply chain for Haiti.

    Texas and Oregon (where I live) have the benefit of choice when it comes to concrete production systems. We can choose mixing with random shovels or any number of modern concrete batching alternatives. We usually choose something other than a shovel and a ditch so as to have greater control over consistency. This choice is particularly important when designing work in seismic areas.

    We have these choices because improvements have been made in the concrete production system over time. The industrialized countries benefit from advances in mining, material grading, batch measuring, mixing efficiency, and good quality control enforcement. Many poor nations don’t have these improvements included into their concrete production systems.

    We reject the idea that because they are poor they deserve to use the concrete systems that our pioneers used. We will not accept that they should have the lowest level of tools because their labor can be bought so cheaply. We believe that our donations and foreign investments should be sustainable and thereby save lives during the next earthquake or hurricane.

    The shovels are still needed, but we can do better if we will share the tools that have improved our lives in Texas and Oregon.

  3. Rich says:

    My undergraduate engineering students and I will be in Northern Haiti in May this year to help construct an outside perimeter wall for an elementary school. What type and source for blocks do you trust in Cap-Haitien? or do you have instructions for proper techniques to build blocks on the site?
    I am glad I stumbled upon this site.

    • cementtrust says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation here at CementTrust. I know that your students will gain a rich educational experience as they work to build in Haiti. There are several challenges to sourcing block in Haiti. One of the major issues is quality control. There are some good quality production facilities in the major cities, but once you leave them most of the block is hand-made and low quality. They tend to use a poor quality of sand and then skimp on the cement for the recipe.
      The best field test that I have heard of for block quality is the “Drop the Block” (https://cementtrust.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/the-drop-the-block-test-in-haiti/)
      I am going to ask a couple of our CementTrust friends to reach out to you. One is has helped some block manufacturers to make good block in the country and the other is currently training masons in Haiti.

      I wish you and your students great success with your project.

  4. Rich says:

    Thank you for your timely response. We will have a local mason on the project. He has said he prefers to make his own blocks because of the poor quality made by others. The question is whether his better criteria is still good enough. I am very comfortable purchasing from a reputable source if one is available.
    Is the drop test valid on soil or on pavement? I assume soil (ground) but want to be sure.

  5. Bill Fleming says:

    Rich, the best method is to take the block and have a compression test done on the unit to show the total strength of the block in PSI. Labs can also test for water absorption. It would be ideal to have to several blocks tested to make sure you are correct and not just basing your block project one one sample. The other simple test is just lightly slap two blocks together. You are looking to hear a sound of a high tone ring like a bell which shows the block is hard through out the unit. If you do this and the sound is dull and thump! the manufacturer either is shorting on cement trying to save money, using poor quality rock and sand or several other reasons. If you need more help give me a call to discuss. http://www.globalmachinemarket.com
    Bill Fleming

  6. Pingback: Digging Ourselves Deeper | The Nature of Cities

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