Lusumpuko Community School, Kalomo District, Zambia – improving sanitation and hygiene facilities to enable continuity of education

In late 2021, the Engineers Trust awarded the first Engineering Outreach Grant of £5,000 to Just A Drop for an engineering project that contributes to the relief of poverty in Kalomo District, Zambia.

The project will pilot Interlocking Stabilized Soil Blocks (ISSB) technology which is new to the area. Bricks are made from compressed mixed soil using an ISSB mechanical hand press. These will be used to build a 4 stance girls latrine block with washroom and handwashing station, at Lusumpuko Primary school, where currently many children miss lessons due to the unsatisfactory hygiene conditions.  We will also provide vital hygiene education to all pupils which will improve health and consequently, families will benefit from reduced medical bills.

This remote school serves a poor and disadvantaged community, which is difficult and costly to access and a lesser priority to receive support and funding. Families are desperately poor and rely largely on subsistence farming.

The links between good education and poverty reduction are well known.  This project will improve attendance rates, as pupils will be less sick and better able to focus in class. A priority is to ensure that girls are not disadvantaged and are able to attend school during their periods, reducing absenteeism and drop-outs, and providing the same opportunities as boys for a full education as a step out of poverty.

A completed latrine project at Nachoncho


ISSB technology means we can better utilise local materials to create solutions with significantly lower environmental impact. Soil will be used for making the bricks, with 5% cement added. These bricks are cured, not fired, eliminating the need to cut down trees to provide firewood, reducing greenhouse gases; they require less cement and no transportation, achieving massive environmental gains, particularly as this new engineering solution will be used on further Just a Drop projects in Zambia and Uganda.

Bricklaying with ISSB blocks

The block press for 6 inch walling units

ISSB blocks – six inches wide

Training in ISSB technology

The project completion relies on training three of our country partner’s contracted staff on ISSB technology, and they will get work experience and a good foundation of skills to take this project experience forward. These same project staff have worked on latrine building projects for several years using kiln fired bricks, and this part of the process will be replaced with the ISSBs. As more projects are delivered, the three trained staff will train further local masons in new engineering skills who can then take forward their skills and experience into future projects and employment.

The ISSB press has been ordered from Nairobi and is on its way to Lusaka currently.  As soon as it arrives the team will practice making the bricks with it whilst they wait for the end of the rains in April when they can start digging the latrine pit. The project should be complete by July.

Improved handwashing facilities at Nachoncho