[Strawbale] Bales for Haiti

RT ArchiLogic at yahoo...
Thu Feb 18 20:04:50 CET 2010

On Thu, 18 Feb 2010 12:06:58 -0500, Derek Roff <derek at unm...> wrote:

> It looks like a team of three people will be heading to Haiti in early  
> March to build a prototype strawbale building, as part of the relief  
> efforts.  Builders Without Borders is trying to support and collaborate  
> (with this and other projects).  An immediate need is a source of straw  
> and/or bales.  There is rice grown in Haiti, but no evidence of bales,  
> and unknown quantities of available straw.  Hand baling, or rebaling,  
> may be necessary.

I am ambivalent about the idea of parachuting a team of "foreigners"  
heading to Haiti to build them some SB homes.

The "other" side wonders how appropriate SB-walled buildings might be for  
that locale/climate and how the instant buildings might fit into the  
culture, assuming that the structures are intended to have a long service  
life beyond that of emergency shelters.

In Haiti as is the case in most other places, I suspect that it is the  
roof that is the more critical component in creating shelter and unless  
the Team is building vaulted structures, straw /bales would play a minimal  
role in the creation of those roofs.

Those concerns notwithstanding, I also wonder if it might be more helpful  
in the long term to send a baling machine rather than just a shipment of  
bales, my understanding (from very brief Google-ing in the days following  
the destruction) being that Haiti grew more than enough rice to be  

ie Showing Haitians how to build SB buildings using imported straw and/or  
bales won't do them much good once the Team goes home.

On the other hand, if they are provided with a baling machine, then they  
can produce bales using whatever locally-available materials exist,  
whether it be rice straw or some other cellulosic "waste" material.

The baler would have to be modified slightly perhaps, so that rather than  
being hauled around a field by a tractor, it might remain stationary, with  
the baling stock being fed into it by a small conveyor, and perhaps the  
baler and conveyor being powered by a stationary engine or human or beast  
of burden power.

I suspect that the funds to purchase the baler, conveyor,  etc. might be  
able to be raised from fund-raising initiatives on the SB lists.

=== * ===
Rob Tom
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
<A r c h i L o g i c  at  Y a h o o  dot  c a >
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