Survey of Informal Clay Brick Making

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It is our pleasure to present this report on Informal Clay Brick Making in the Eastern Cape and hope it will provide valuable information and a deeper understanding of the sector.

Building and overall brick making is a significant sector in the South African economy,  responsible for economic development and creation of jobs, but also for a substantial part of air pollution, particularly CO² emissions. As part of this sector, the Clay Brick market is responsible for around 3,6
billion Brick Equivalents (BE).

While the formal clay brick sector is well regulated and monitored, very little is known about informal clay brick manufacturingin South Africa. To counter this, a first study was done in 2011-12 by the DEDEAT Eastern Cape Province, which proved very useful in revealing the size, locations and relevance of the informal brick makers. It was found that while there are 13 formal sector brick makers with all the required licences, there are probably more than 200 informal ones operating without any licences. Also within the province, some district municipalities - mainly in the North and East of the province - have a higher presence of informal operators.

The next step was to better understand the sector itself, as well as the challenges faced and possible interventions. This second study was therefore commission and supported by various interested parties:

  • the National and Provincial governments of South Africa;
  • the Clay Brick Association of South Africa (CBA) and its members.
  • This study was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as part of the SA-VSBK Project implemented in South Africa by Swisscontact, in collaboration with SKAT.

The current second phase of this intervention is the Energy Efficient Clay Brick (EECB) Project, funded by SDC and implemented by Swisscontact.

The study confirms the demographics obtained in the first study and further provides an overview of the status of the informal clay brick sector in the technical / operational, social, economic, environmental and legal areas. The typical market structure is revealed, including a description of the full value chain, as well as the obstacles which would need to be unblocked in order to achieve optimum operation and quality..

The information provided by this study is intended to help develop a road map to assist the various role players to improve and formalise their operations, while at the same time reducing their environmental impacts. It also aims to help government to craft legislation that is sensitive to the realities of economic
development.

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