For the founders of Development Alternatives based in New Delhi, India, creating sustainable livelihoods is about designing and disseminating appropriate technologies based on natural resources. Fundamentally, it’s about survival.
Development Alternatives’ approach begins with working with local people to understand what a sustainable livelihood really is. Their sustainable livelihoods program “aspires to be an expanded version of what Gandhi envisaged as a self-sustaining village society: meeting local needs with the local resource base in a decentralised manner.”
They work towards this vision by:
- Designing and disseminating appropriate technologies for alternative income generating activities.
- Promoting sustainable use and regeneration of natural resources using appropriate technologies and management techniques.
Development Alternatives develops and disseminates new technologies through its commercial branch: Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA). For the Katerva Challenge, TARA is submitting its latest project: Greening the Brick Sector.
According to Program Director Dr. Soumen Maity, brick manufacturing is a major resource-based industry in India, employing 8 million people. To fuel the industry, 60 million tons of coal are burned each year, emitting 150 tons of CO2. Development Alternative’s proposal is to employ Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns (VBSK) to reduce CO2 emissions from the brick making process.
Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns essentially consist of one or more rectangular, vertical shafts within the kiln structure. Rectangular arrays of dried green bricks and crushed fuel (coal) are carefully stacked into batches, which are loaded into the shaft from the top and finally batches of fired clay bricks are removed from the bottom end.
VBSK are energy efficient and economically viable. Use of the kiln saves 30% to 50% on fuel costs when compared to other brick firing technologies. Use of these kilns has also been shown to be a profitable business opportunity, with 50% recovery on investment made within the 1st year of operation.
The project will also have the objectives of providing tools to help develop the currently unorganized brick industry and provide new jobs through disseminating this “green” technology. Various entrepreneurs in the Indian states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have already availed of the benefits of adoption of improved technologies through financial incentives.
The Greening of the Brick Sector project will therefore help achieve sustainable livelihoods in India by reducing poverty – and will reduce the emission of a major greenhouse gas at the same time.