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November 27, 2018 — For the first time in history, Paraguay hosted a national meeting to discuss how to produce cleaner and more sustainable artisanal bricks. More than 100 people gathered in Paraguay’s national Congress to hold the 4th Regional Latin American Policy Advisory Network for Clean Brick Production (PAN LAC), belonging to the UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), and coordinated by the Center for Human Rights and Environment (CHRE). The meeting was co-hosted and organized by Paraguay’s Congressional Commission for the Defense of Natural Resources (CONADERNA) and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADES). Representatives from Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Brasil, and Argentina offered their experiences on how through best practices and new technologies, the artisanal brick sector can be cleaned up.
In Paraguay, like in other parts of the world, artisanal brick manufacturing is a significant source of black carbon contamination (soot from the burning process used to make bricks). Poor combustion, antiquated oven design, and failure to adhere to best practices in the production process all lead to worrying contamination that affects human health and that contributes to climate change. Paraguay’s artisanal brick kilns, estimated to number in the 3,000 – 4,000 range, are not all that different from artisanal kilns around the world, and evidence inefficiencies in how clay is prepared, to how it is dried before cooking, and how oven design affects the efficiency of the burning process and the final product.
The PAN LAC network offers countries that are members of the CCAC advisory assistance and exposure to some of the world’s best experiences in dealing with artisanal brick kiln contamination, from improving initial clay quality, to processes that better dry bricks, that stack bricks differently in kilns to maximize heat circulation, to kiln design and management to produce better bricks with less fuel and less waste. The network also focusses on working conditions of artisanal brick makers, which often operate in dire conditions.
During the event, representatives from around the continent shared information with their Paraguayan counterparts about how they have addressed the sector and introduced policies and practices to lower emissions.
Finally, in addition to the discussion on environmental improvement opportunities for brick makers, the workshop focused on social conditions in the sector, drawing attention to the labor violations that are often witnessed at brick kilns, including child labor and many other forms of abuse. The participants were unanimous in calling for care while contamination is addressed in the sector, as merely adopting strict environmental regulations could send already poor brick makers deeper into informality, poverty and marginalization.
Link to the workshop agenda: (click here) – Spanish Only
Links to workshop report (in 2 parts): Spanish Only
for more information:
Jorge Daniel Taillant
+1 415 713 2309