The PROECCO Programme

Promoting Climate Responsive Building Material Production and Off-farm Employment in the Great Lakes Region


In the project area locally promoted technologies for energy efficient building material production are not economically viable solutions for mass scale dissemination. Successful technologies and production methods from Africa, Asia and/or Latin America are being transferred to the Great Lakes Region. After adaptation to local raw materials, fuels and market context, they are being demonstrated and documented regarding social and environmental and economic performance. Simultaneously, the local authorities, banks and service providers shall be enabled to create a supportive environment, allowing the building material sector to change to a more sustainable structure.

Project Facts


Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo

Project Period:

11/2012 –6/2019


Project Director/Manager: Jürg Christen

Project Coordinator: Daniel Wyss;

Expatriate Team: Heidrun Simm, Michael Velten, Fatou Dieye

Backstopping: Bertha Camacho, Daniel Schwitter

Website developed by PROECCO

Project Description


Rwanda and Burundi are Africa’s most densely inhabited countries. Their population doubles every 25-30 years and the cultivation land per farmer family shrank far below the FAO minimum for a sustainable agricultural livelihood. To address the fast growing housing and building material needs and compensate their decreasing agrarian income, farmers seasonally mine and mould millions of cubic metres of clay and sand and burn hundreds of thousands of tons of fuelwood in brick kilns each year, further destroying arable land and with it the livelihoods of future generations.

The programme’s main objectives

The Programme promoting off-farm employment and income in the Great Lakes region through climate responsive construction material production supports the creation of permanent non-agrarian jobs in rural block- and brickyards. The people targeted for this are the rural young, who are currently labouring seasonally in farm-side brickyards and innovative entrepreneurs willing to pioneer permanently operated building material production yards.

  • Building material manufacturing methods and technologies

Successful technologies and production methods from Africa, Asia or Latin America shall be transferred to the Great Lakes Region and adapted to local raw materials, fuels and market context, in cooperation with vocational training centres and the private sector.

  • Skills trainings

Trainings modules for labour, production managers and service providers shall be developed, and trainers of trainers trained.

  • Support in Land Use Planning and Natural Resource Use Management

For identifying suitable building material production zones, local authorities are supported in establishing detailed inventories of clays, fuels and markets and in the mapping of other information which is relevant for the sector.


Establish an inventory on raw material, resoucre use management, action research, trainings, develop manuals, develop role models, monitoring and documenting the construction industry development, provide business information to banks to facilitate access to credits, establish brick federations and building their capacities, design business models for effective use of modern bricks and optimise brick house designs for mainstream markets.

Geographic scope

During the initial phase, the programme focuses its activities on the Burundian Province Ngozi and on five Districts in the Western Province of Rwanda, where field offices are being established. The back office in Kigali plays the role of a Knowledge HUB, channelling regional and international know-how and information to all relevant stakeholders.


Technical, socio-economical, environmental and institutional expertise is provided on demand by Skat and SDC’s local, regional and international network. Strategic coaching is provided by selected institutions from the North and the South, such as CRAterre (FRA), Greentech Solutions (IND), VSBK HUB Southern Africa (RSA), and the Federal Office of Topography (SUI).

Main Results

Local authorities take informed decisions on the use of natural resources and the promotion of climate responsible building material production; landless young adults have access to know-how on operating climate responsive building material production technology, offering improved working conditions, particularly for women; rural entrepreneurs have economically viable business models for labour friendly and climate responsive production of affordable building material and access to capital required for the creation of extra-agricultural off-farm jobs