Alot of things have changed in the earthbag building movement since Kelly Hart and I started to disseminate free earth- bag information on the Internet at Earthbag Building.com in 2007 and a few years later at NaturalBuildingBlog.com (formerly Earthbag ). Back then, there were not very many earthbag buildings or resources available. Today, there are thousands of earth- bag buildings, countless online videos, as well as many websites and blogs, and numerous books.
The most prolific changes in this movement have come from abroad, in poor countries, where the need for safe, affordable housing, schools, clinics, eco toilets, and water tanks is staggeringly high. Developing countries urgently need these things. Other building materials and methods are often not affordable or practical.
Earthbag building is now very popular in Mexico, South America, Africa, Asia, and other places. Some of the most exciting development work is being done in Nepal since the 2015 earthquakes rocked that country. What caught the world’s attention was the vast number (hundreds of thousands) of concrete and brick buildings that were destroyed, while all 55 earthbag buildings in Nepal that had been built before the quakes survived without major
Earthbag building is quickly catching on in Nepal as the safest, strongest, lowest cost, most effective way of building. For instance, a 6-classroom school can be built in about two months by local villagers for the cost of a car. These buildings are so strong that you could drive a speeding vehicle into the walls, detonate grenades, or shoot them with a machine gun with only minor damage.
In my article Low Cost Village Housing for Nepal on our blog, I explain how the greatest need for housing in Nepal is in poor rural villages. Most of these places are in remote mountainous areas far from roads. Not only can these villagers not afford cement and steel for conventional building, it’s not practical to carry these heavy materials 1–2 days over steep mountain passes. Earthbag building is an excellent choice in this situation.
The following projects illustrate the wide range of uses for earthbags, and some of the many benefits.
Since 2015 Good Earth Global (goodearth ) has built four schools, one learning center, over 20 houses, one meeting center, and four model eco toilets in Nepal and India.
They have taught earthbag building techniques to almost 1,000 rural village builders, students, engineers, architects, and community leaders in Nepal and India. They won the “Best Rural Design” award at a competition organized by the
Nepal Engineering Association.
This NGO, partnered with Anna University, a leading Indian technical university, co-organized an international earthbag conference in India, and supervised the construction of a model Earthbag Meeting Center on the university’s
Good Earth Global has designed prototype earthbag toilets that are inexpensive, ecologi- cally sustainable, and easily built using local labor and materials. Toilets can be built by four workers in two days at $282 each for materials and labor. With sufficient support, Good Earth Global hopes to build thousands of earthbag toilets throughout India, potentially saving hundreds of lives daily.
In April 2017, Nepal’s Ministry of Urban Development approved and published Good Earth Global’s earthbag designs in the “Design Catalogue for Reconstruction of Earthquake Resistant Houses,” giving millions of earthquake victims the opportunity to use government aid money to build safe and affordable earthbag homes. With this pioneering decision, Nepal became the first count