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Houses Built of Straw

Region: Central Asia, Uzbekistan
Author: Union for the Protection of the Aral and Amu Darya
Consortium Member: Isar Central Asia
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $3960 Collected: $300 Needs: $3660
Goal: To help conserve resources and improve the environment in Karakalpakstan through the construction of rice straw houses.
Comment: More than 200,000 tons of rice are grown annually in the Karakalpakstan region - this project would use a rice production waste product to build clean, environmentally beneficial houses.

Donors: Timothy Douglas, Washington DC [April 2001; May 2001]; Susan Macias, California [May 2002]; Timothy and Yulia Douglas, Washington DC [June 2002; September 2002]; Middlebury Model United Nations Conference [May 2003]; Anonymous, Washington State [July 2003; December 2003]; A Christmas Donation for Shane Clyburn [December 2004]

Project Background

Approximately 200,000 tons of rice are grown annually in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan. However, only a small section of the rice plant (the rice itself) is utilized. The straw of the plant is burned, producing smoke which pollutes the environment. Instead of this wasteful practice, we can utilize the straw and build environmentally clean houses.

Members of the Union for the Protection of the Aral and Amu Darya took part in a seminar on the construction of straw structures in Minsk, Belarus in 1996 and are familiar with this technology. Construction of houses with walls of straw is very similar, in principle, to structures made of ordinary brick walls. A special machine is used to create the straw bales, measuring 90 cm. in length, 45 cm. in width and 35 cm. in height. The straw bales are then stacked, as in brick wall construction, so that the seams do not coincide. The bales are fastened together and to a base plate by wooden dowels or iron rods. Finally, a covering of stucco is applied over the bales. Straw houses are ideally suited to the arid climate of the Karakalpakstan region.

Project Goal

The goal of this project is to create an environmentally conscious way of thinking in the people of the Karakalpakstan region, and to train people in the technology of constructing environmentally clean straw houses. This action will help conserve both resources and energy in Karakalpakstan.

Project Implementation

The structure that project implementers plan to build will be a demonstration storehouse for vegetables. The dimensions of this exhibition storehouse are 4 m. x 6 m. with walls 2.5 m. high, all constructed of straw blocks.

During the construction process, members of the Union for the Protection of the Aral and Amu Darya (UPAAD) will give a training seminar on the procedure of straw building technology. The training will be comprised of eight individuals, all from areas of Karakalpakstan where rice is grown. Once constructed, the storehouse will become part of the Center for Power Efficiency that the UPAAD has helped found. It is planned that eventually, the Center will consist of a series of buildings constructed from various environmentally clean technologies.

UPAAD members will develop a series of lectures on the subject of straw bale technology to be delivered to students of the local Building and Construction Institute. An informational leaflet will also be created explaining the process of constructing buildings with straw bales. Five hundred copies will be published and distributed to interested individuals. Articles will be published in the local newspaper and television broadcasts prepared about this technology.

Expected Results

  • A group of individuals, knowledgeable in environmentally clean construction technology, will be gathered.
  • A rice straw storehouse will be constructed for demonstration. And more importantly, UPAAD will provide training in this technology to the public and students of the Building and Construction Institute.
  • The burning of massive amounts of rice straw will be prevented, in turn reducing the amount of pollution expelled into the atmosphere.
  • This project can help solve such social and environmental problems in the area as unemployment, lack of adequate housing and conservation of energy and other natural resources.

    Project Time Frame

    One year


    A) Salaries:

    1. Engineer ($40 a month x 4 months) $160
    2. Hired laborers
        Carpenter (1 person) $50
        Welder (1 person) $50
        Mason (2 people) $100
    3. Project Director ($70/mo x 12 months) $840

    B) Equipment

    1. Metal work and joiner's tools $200
    2. Electric drive and small cement mixer $300
    3. Rental of straw bailing machine (1 day) $50
    4. Transportation of equipment and building materials ($20/day x 7 days) $140

    C) Travel costs

    1. Trip to Tashkent to publish the informational leaflets, purchase tools and equipment and hold meetings with interested NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Construction:
        Airplane ticket (1 person, roundtrip) $60
        Daily allowance (1 person@$5/day x 4 days) $20
        Residing accommodations(1 person@$10/day x 4 days) $40
        Transportation costs for leaflets, tools and equipment $60
    2. The areas of Karakalpakstan where rice is grown are located far away from Nukus City (100-150 km.). A member of our organization will travel to these areas in order to distribute information and establish specific areas where we will acquire the rice straw:
        Transportation cost (3 routes x $10 per route) $30
        Daily allowance (10 days x $5 per day) $50
        Residing accommodations (10 days x $5 per day) $50
    D) Building Materials

    E) Publishing Cost

    F) Construction Seminar

    1. Meals (8 people@ $10/day x 2 days) $160
    2. Residing accommodations (8 people @ $10/day x 2 days )$160
    3. Transportation costs (8 people x $10 round trip) $80
    4. Paper, pens and miscellaneous stationery $50

    VF Admin. Fee (10%) $360

    Total Budget: $3960