A three-week training session for masons, labourers and engineers last Monday kicked off at the Sandele Resort in Kartong, Kombo South district of the West Coast Region.
Organised by the Gambia Association of Construction Contractors, with funding from the World Bank, the training brought together 50 labourers, 30 masons and 10 engineers in the production, curing, utilisation, and design of Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEBs).
The first two weeks will see participants, notably masons and labourers in the construction industry, trained on block production and construction.
The third week would involve training on technical supervision for targeted engineers.
The training, which will be delivered by the Earthworks Construction Company, will include site visits to buildings that have already been constructed using this technology.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Gabriel Leonard Allen, president of the Gambia Association of Construction Contractors (GACCON), said the training is GACCON's attempt to generate significant interest in a well-tried technology, which is especially appropriate for low-cost bungalows.
"In the process, we hope to propagate a sound technique to the construction of less expensive, but reliable structures," Allen stated.
According to him, labourers would be equipped with practical knowledge and experiences, coupled with lessons on how to manufacture, cure, handle and test the quality of CSE blocks.
"They will also be given guidance on the maintenance of block moulds and tools," he said, adding that masons like the labourers will thoroughly learn the Compressed Stabilised Earth block-making process.
"The third group of trainees, the engineers, will benefit from an intense specialised teaching and learning experience during the last week of this workshop," he said, adding that the engineers will be introduced to block mix design, soil tests and the necessary foundations suitable for earthworks technology.
He revealed that some structural considerations would be made on the use and possible locations of structural members. These, he added, will include interlink between hollow CSEBs, with lintels, column, arches, beams, staircase, and roof-design, including domes.
"At this Earthworks Technology Training Workshop, the GACCON brother firm of Earthworks Construction has been carefully selected as our suitable 'foundation' model to develop capacity among the rest of the membership of GACCON, with respect to earthworks technology," Allen noted.
He urged the participants and their respective construction firms to take full advantage of the training, by giving heed to the lecturers and demonstrations of the trainers.
He also commended the World Bank Matching Grant Facility, under the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Programme sub-project.