App for CSEB promotion in Nepal

Through the CSEB app, entrepreneurs are finding it easier to reach out to more clients and to inform them about the benefits of CSEB, as a climate friendly and economically beneficial building material.

By Astha Joshi

In Nepal, fire-burnt bricks are conventionally used as a standard construction material. On the other hand, Compressed Stabilized Earth Bricks (CSEB) are new in Nepal, introduced after the 2015 earthquake. The environmental and economic benefits of CSEB is not yet understood by most of the population.

NABIN project, funded by the Nordic Climate Facility (NCF), led by DCA along with the technical partner Practical Action, and local implementing partner Build up Nepal (BUN) aims to develop 90 entrepreneurs in 19 districts of Nepal (out of which, 12 are earthquake-affected districts). The focus is on scaling pro-poor and climate-friendly business models for CSEB. 

As part of the project, entrepreneurs (CSEB producers), masons and contractors are trained about CSEB and provided with both technical and business support to market the CSEB technology.

However, one of the main challenges faced by CSEB producers is retaining the manuals (both marketing and technical, i.e construction plans etc).

“Although we provide the entrepreneurs' catalogue of building construction, brochures, the entrepreneurs complained they couldn’t carry it everywhere with them, or the pages come out loose,” stated Ajay Pandey, Project Manager, NABIN Project, at DCA. Entrepreneurs stated that the only time they referenced these materials were when they had a question about construction, most times, they did not carry it with them.

During field trips, the project team observed that almost all the entrepreneurs, masons, and contractors had smartphones with them. Entrepreneurs were found to use their smartphones to take pictures of the manuals, which they could easily refer to anytime. Based on this observation, Build Up Nepal came up with the idea to make a mobile application with inbuilt information on all the required materials and catalogues.

The Build Up Nepal CSEB app includes several features:

  • Photos and videos of beautiful CSEB building
  • Video of comparison between CSEB and fired bricks
  • A cost calculator to calculate the cost of a wall with CSEB vs. fired bricks
  • Entrepreneurs can take photos of their houses and add to our library
  • Quality inspection form and reporting
  • Training video for construction of earthquake-resistant houses with CSEB
  • Inspiration video of successful entrepreneurs
  • Government-approved drawings
  • Quality control checklist

“Most of our entrepreneurs have a smartphone and the app is an ideal way for them to present information to potential clients,” stated Pratik Singh Parmar, Business Developer at BUN

The app was launched internally a month ago to the entrepreneurs for feedback. One of the features of the app includes the cost calculation of houses made with CSEB vs Firebricks.

“The feature makes it easier for entrepreneurs to show the cost-effectiveness and cost-saving for homeowners, along with CO₂ emission calculations. This helps them decide to switch to CSEB,” informed Pratik. 

Ram Bahadur K.C is a CSEB entrepreneur based in Gulmi who has been using the app. “I had to carry the construction manuals to the worksite daily. Sometimes, I would forget it at home, and I had to go back and forth. But now, I can get things done quickly. I just need to refer to the app especially showing the cost of making the houses. It has made my work easier.”

Build Up Nepal’s CSEB app complements NABIN’s project objective to establish a self-sustaining and commercially viable CSEB enterprise, strengthen the supply chain of CSEB by business development, and increasing demand for climate-responsive construction materials.

The app can be downloaded to both Android and iPhone.