Land, hearth and water
When Eduardo Romero was 40 years outdated, he was fired from his job as a bricklayer. It was 1992, within the metropolis of Durazno, Uruguay. Along with his few belongings on his shoulder, Eduardo headed for the north of the nation and stopped solely when he discovered work. It was within the metropolis of Tranqueras, and his new supply of revenue got here from land, hearth and water: Eduardo began making bricks.
Right this moment, 5 jobs, two ventures, three youngsters and 28 years later, Mr. Romero remains to be linked to this insecure trade, which is each a simple supply of employment for many who want it most, however the place folks work with out social safety or insurance coverage, and with their labour rights constantly violated. “It’s a precarious sector,” says Mr. Romero. “We’re at all times on the sting of city, sporting soiled garments.”
Dependable statistics on the trade are arduous to return by, however estimates counsel that there are some 14,000 households working in 3,500 manufacturing items throughout the nation. The casual nature of the work makes for top turnover.
Germandy Perez-Galeno/UN Uruguay
On prime of the strain on particular person staff, the trade has a destructive influence on the setting; emissions are excessive and a few brickmakers, missing different sources of gasoline, burn protected species of timber.
In the course of the brickmaking season, which lasts from September to April, an artisanal producer could make a mean of about 30,000 bricks per thirty days; the complete sector in Uruguay yields sufficient bricks yearly to construct not less than 1,500 new homes, plus a whole bunch of companies, kilns, factories, and extra.
Eduardo is one among a rising variety of artisanal producers who’re altering the way in which they make bricks and, within the course of, serving to the complete nation get pleasure from a cleaner setting. However in a sector like this, altering traditions is troublesome.
Turning mud and rubbish into stable foundations
Making bricks the normal manner, is an artwork that requires a number of levels. First the weather are obtained to make the uncooked materials: water, soil, clay, sand, and natural matter corresponding to horse dung.
This materials is blended and put into moulds, then laid out to dry for 3 days. Then they’re baked in an oven, with firewood serving as the primary gasoline, for between two and 7 days, and allowed to chill. 4 days later they’re prepared on the market.
At every stage of the method, there are considerable occupational hazards and environmental impacts.
‘Far behind in technological phrases’
Pablo Montes Goitia/UN Uruguay
As well as, this methodology is way extra inefficient than trendy, mechanized methods: in keeping with the federal government, factories can churn out bricks nearly seven occasions sooner than an artisanal producer.
“The artisanal brick trade is way behind in technological phrases,” says Pablo Montes, who works for the Uruguayan authorities, and can also be nationwide coordinator of PAGE Uruguay (Partnership for Motion on the Inexperienced Economic system), a mission involving the UN and the Uruguayan Authorities.
He explains that there are vital obstacles to artisans transferring to newer methods: it has fewer job alternatives; it additionally requires certification that almost all artisans don’t have, whether or not for the expense, or as a result of many haven’t completed main college and may barely learn or write.
That’s why PAGE is trying to help the artisanal trade, serving to staff to get pleasure from better rights and better incomes, and slicing air pollution in the course of the manufacturing course of.
PAGE employees talked to brickmakers from all around the nation, on the lookout for enhancements at each stage of the manufacturing course of, and introduced in consultants from different nations – corresponding to Colombia, which has already undergone its personal transformation – to provide workshops on the best way to make higher bricks.
By doing so, PAGE helps to maneuver Uruguay nearer to the dual objectives of a greener and extra affluent financial system. The mission remains to be in progress, and is growing even higher strategies and coaching extra brickmakers.
Artisanal, safer, greener
“Remodeling the trade will enable these ventures to achieve success,” says Mr. Romero. Nonetheless, he has no illusions that such a change shall be simple to realize.
“On this occupation, there are women and men who’ve made an trustworthy residing for many years or for his or her entire lives,” he explains. Artisanal brickmaking is a lifestyle, a convention. Numerous houses and companies in each a part of Uruguay have been constructed with bricks made by the palms of nameless laborers. They’ve invested their lives within the occupation, and they’re happy with what they’ve created.
“That’s what we try to defend,” says Mr. Romero. At the same time as he alters his personal manner of working, with steerage from PAGE, he realizes that not everybody shall be so fast to adapt. Some could also be sceptical of outsiders who come to show them a ability they’ve practiced for a few years.
Pablo Montes of PAGE is optimistic that brickmakers shall be received over by the advantages that the brand new methods of working supply them. “We need to preserve the trade artisanal, whereas making it safer and greener,” he says. “We will have each.”