Lectures

Raw Earth Construction

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Raw earth is a natural material, which has been used in construction since ancient times. It consists of a compacted mixture of moist clay and sand. Raw earth is an excellent building material, as it has many properties similar to concrete. It is especially suitable in countries with a hot climate. A variety of raw earth construction techniques already exist and developed over centuries.

Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 2 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 2 Lecture Raw Earth Construction

Quiz

Quiz

Background on Raw Earth as a Sustainable Building Material

Although raw earth as a building material existed for a long time, it only recently gained interest, due to its eco-friendly properties and significant energy saving potential across all stages of its life cycle. Therefore, raw earth can be a cornerstone for constructing eco-houses.

Unlike conventional masonry bricks, the soil and water mix in raw earth is used almost in its natural state. There is ample evidence, both historic and contemporary, that raw earth can be a durable construction material. Famous raw earth constructions include the Fujian Tulou in China and the new Ricola Kräuterzentrum (German for herb center) in Switzerland by the famous architecture firm Herzog and de Mauron.

However, shifting cement to raw earth construction will require to overcome not only technical, but also cultural challenges. One major challenge is to overcome the prejudices, that raw earth constructions are not suitable for contemporary architecture. Furthermore, to break the perception, that cement is not automatically better as it is a more recent construction method. Regardless of this challenge, the interest in raw earth as a building material and alternative to cement increased.

About the lecturer

Madiana Hazoume gives this two part lecture on Raw Earth Construction. She is a lecturer and project manager at ICAM Paris in 2018, responsible for the thematic area Sustainable Buildings and Cities. Before joining ICAM, Madiana worked internationally as a civil engineer in France, Senegal, Madagascar and Canada. Her fields of expertise include sustainable building, thermal building, structural resistance and energy efficiency of buildings.

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Groundwater Dams in Arid and Semi-arid Areas

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Groundwater dams are structures that intercept or obstruct the natural flow of groundwater and provide underground storage. They can therefore be used as a macro-catchment rainwater harvesting technology in arid and semi-arid areas. The main two types are: subsurface dams and sand storage dams. They have successfully been used in several parts of the world, most notably India, Africa and Brazil.

Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 4 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

Groundwater Dams in Arid and Semi-arid Areas Lecture

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 4 Lecture Groundwater Dams

Quiz

Quiz

Background on Underground Water Storage Dams

Instead of storing water in surface reservoirs, water is stored underground. This is the main principle behind groundwater dams. The main advantage of such storage is that evaporation losses are significantly lower compared to open reservoirs. They are also the most reliable method to prevent saltwater intrusion. Furthermore, since parasites cannot breed in underground water, the risk of waterborne diseases is reduced. The submergence of land, a problem which is normally associated with surface dams, is not present with sub-surface dams.

However, groundwater dams are not a universally applicable solution, as they require specific conditions in order to properly function. Ideally, they should be built in areas where rainwater from a large catchment area flows through a narrow passage. The best construction sites are where the soil consists of sands and gravel, with rock or a permeable layer at a depth of a few metres.

About the Lecturer

Josep de Trincheria is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection. The topic of his doctoral thesis is the technical evaluation and design optimisation of subsurface dams and sand storage dams in Kenya and Zimbabwe. In addition, he has work experience in different African countries, including Eritrea, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ethiopia. He is currently working as an Emergency WASH Officer at the UN International Organization for Migration.

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System of Rice Intensification

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System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a climate-smart, agro-ecological rice cultivation strategy. As such, it provides a viable alternative to conventional rice production methods. SRI has the potential to reduce water requirements, increase land productivity and reduce reliance on artificial fertilisers and other agrochemicals. This has further positive social implications, such as increasing household income and reducing costs associated with farming.

Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 3 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

Part 2

SRI Part 2

Part 3

SRI Part 3

Quiz

Quiz

Background on the SRI Rice Cultivation Method

SRI is not just one methodology, but rather a set of practice recommendations. It is based on four main interconnected principles:

  1. Early, quick and healthy plant establishment
  2. Reduced plant density
  3. Improved soil conditions (high organic matter content)
  4. Reduced and controlled water application (sustainable irrigation)

The method originates from  India, China, Ethiopia, Malaysia and Madagascar, but SRI is spreading. A growing number of field reports document these benefits: a yield increase of up to 100 %, up to 50 % of water savings and a significant reduction of up to 90 % in required seed. Additionally, SRI ensures better resilience to weather extremes. By August 2018, more than 800 scientific papers on SRI have been published, discussing this concept. As a result, the practice is recently also applied to other crops such as wheat, tef, sorghum and sugarcane, then called System of Crop Intensification (SCI).

About the Lecturer

Tavseef Mairaj Shah is an environmental and process engineer by training. He is currently pursuing doctoral studies at Hamburg University of Technology. His field of research is Agroecology and Ecological Engineering.

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Soil – Water & Food Security

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Soil, water and food security are highly interlinked. Good soil quality, healthy soil, is one of the most important foundations for food production and our survival. Shrinking soil resources, whilst food demands rapidly increase, are one of the big challenges we will face and have to address.

Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 4 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

soil water and food security part 1

Part 2

soil water and food security part 2

Part 3

soil - water & food security part: 3

Part 4

Soil-Water and Food Security Part 4

Quiz

Quiz

Background on the Soil, Water and Food Security Nexus

The complex interactions and interdependencies increase between soil, water and food security. Actions in one area usually have profound impacts on other ones. Nexus frameworks look at these interdependencies, however, this lecture concentrates on the soil component.

You learn general concepts related to soil health and define healthy soil. Soil degradation spreads and soil quality varies vastly worldwide. Therefore, a classification of soil degradation is necessary to map the degradation degree specifically. The first lecture discusses also the interconnections between agro-chemical agriculture and soil quality. Then, the second part illustrates the humus ecosystem in detail. Animals are part of the ecosystem with a the soil food web benefiting of a healthy humus ecosystem. Agricultural practices rebuilding and working with a healthy humus ecosystem are introduced like organic agriculture, agroforestry, rainwater harvesting and keyline systems. Additional aspects of regenerative agriculture, such as the building of humus, the potential role of mycorrhiza fungi, or avoidance of tillage practices are discussed, among other. Finally, Part 4 explains soil restoration in practice including sanitation practices, namely Terra Preta Sanitation.

About the Lecturer

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl is the Head of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection ( AWWat Hamburg University of Technology. Reuse systems on the low-cost end that are under R&D at his institute are Terra Preta Sanitation systems, designed to produce highly fertile soils e.g. for reforestation. Such systems are part of his latest research activity on rural development with a focus on local added value production including soil improvement for long term water and food security. New Town development is the latest focal point of his research.

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Waterborne Diseases and Prevention

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Waterborne diseases are diseases transmitted by pathogenic microorganisms through water. The transmission process occurs through contact with faecal matter or during bathing, washing, drinking, and food preparation.

 Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 2 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

Part 2

Quiz

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Background on Pathogenic Microorganisms and the Prevention of Waterborne Diseases

Disease burden is a measure of the impact of a health problem based on its financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators. The DALY (disability-adjusted life year) counts the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. Waterborne diseases account for an estimated 3.6 % of this metric, causing around 1.5 million human deaths annually. The World Health Organization estimates that almost 60 % of that burden, or some 840,000 deaths per year, can be attributed to a lack of safe drinking water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Diarrhoeal diseases are the most prominent examples of waterborne diseases, which dramatically affect children in developing countries. According to the World Health Organisation, they are responsible for as many as 2 million deaths each year, with the majority occurring in children under 5.

Proper hygiene, use of clean water and disinfectants are common methods of prevention. Further measures include safe water piping materials and storage (as discussed in Rainwater Harvesting), and education on hygienic behaviour. Energy-efficient infrastructure and water conservation measures can also decrease the burden of waterborne diseases.

About the Lecturer

Dr. Caroline Ajonina is a parasitologist and molecular biologist at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, Hamburg University of Technology. She has several years of experience in applied water microbiology, microbial ecology including interactions between microbial communities and their environment. Her main research areas include developing innovative methods for the identification of pathogens in wastewater and the biological monitoring of water quality. She has worked on wastewater management in the public, private and non-profit sectors in Africa and Germany. In her current research, she investigates the downstream survival and dissemination of protozoans in bivalvia spread by wastewater effluents, focusing on the Rhine and Elbe river courses.

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Eco-Houses in Different Climates

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The term Eco-housing means that each life-cycle stage of a building is planned. You will learn to consider each step from an environmentally responsible and resource efficient perspective: siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and finally demolition. Sustainable building is beyond just sticking to environmental regulations as it is a holistic view on incorporating a building into its environment.

Switch on your loudspeakers/headset for this interactive multimedia lecture, which consists of 4 parts. At the end of the lecture, you have a chance to test your knowledge in the lecture quiz.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Quiz

Quiz

Background on Sustainable Construction in Different Climates

Eco-houses produce fewer emissions through efficient energy use, keep waste out of landfills and relief the pressure on the world’s finite resources. The starting point for each Eco-House construction is to find a good position by using the surrounding environmental conditions. However, different climates require other adjustments and a different social contexts other considerations. Sustainable use of materials should ensure a minimal environmental impact during all stages of the life cycle, from extraction and processing, to the usage phase and final disposal. Exemplary materials are wood, straw, or raw earth, to name a few.

There are, however, many more reasons to opt for eco-friendly housing, which span beyond the reduced environmental impact. Green building can also contribute to savings in overall construction time and money, as well as have a positive impact on health, through improved indoor air quality and lower emissions.

About the Lecturer

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl is the Head of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection at Hamburg University of Technology. Reuse systems on the low-cost end that are under R&D at his institute are Terra Preta Sanitation systems, designed to produce highly fertile soils e.g. for reforestation. Such systems are part of his latest research activity on rural development with a focus on local added value production including soil improvement for long term water and food security. New Town development is the latest focal point of his research.

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