Funding Policy


SEA doesn’t pay for people’s houses. Our role is to put the right “tools” in the hands of those who are willing to become the first do-it-yourselfers to build with adobe.

An example from Norway can help to explain. In Norway, efforts are being made to transition from fossil-fuel driven cars to more environmentally friendly cars. These include:

  • Public awareness raising —ads on TV, brochures, technical drawings with explanations
  • Hands-on experience – nothing is more convincing than going to a car dealer to test-drive in an electric car!
  • Training – with a little practice one can learn how to drive more economically so that the battery power lasts longer
  • Community conversation – talking together with others who are considering switching to an electric car. Talking to salesmen, reading tests, getting the facts. Then calculating whether it makes sense financially.
  • Government incentives—The Norwegian government provides a number of financial incentives for those willing to take the risks involved in buying an electric car: no value-added sales tax, reduced annual registration fees, exemption from paying on toll roads, free parking and electrical charging in major cities.
SEA’s funding policy is to provide “trickle irrigation” money rather than “flood irrigation” to make adobe the building material of choice in Ethiopia.

Sustainability is built into SEA’s philosophy—homeowners build and pay for their own house. However, to choose adobe is to step outside the house-building skills developed over many generations. New knowledge is needed. New hands-on experience is needed. “Tools” are needed. These include facilitated meetings for community conversation, visiting nearby adobe houses and the chance to talk to those who built them, some basic training, help in developing a savings plan to pay for building materials, as well as help in planning the actual house-building.  SEA provides “trickle irrigation” funding for these inputs in order to get the ball rolling. The result is several model adobe houses in a new area. “Flood irrigation” in the form of subsidies and big budgets has proven to be counterproductive in development.

How We Use Your Donation


SEA currently has three staff persons working to promote adobe in Ethiopia. The following is a list of marketing tools that are needed.
  1. Two additional staff positions
  • Skilled adobe trainer and construction site supervisor (technical)
  • Community conversation coordinator (marketing)

These staff persons will be linked primarily to KMG’s WSH program in Durame, but available to other local NGOs, community groups, individuals and government agencies in the region.

  1. Multi-functional regional office building in Durame

This building will be a “show-case” for the wood-saving household. Built to look like a large but ordinary adobe house, this SEA building will have an office as one of the bedrooms, a café kitchen showcasing a wood-saving stove and chimney, and a dining area that can double as a meeting room for community conversations. Electricity will be provided by a simple solar panel.

  1. Audio-visual promotional materials
  • A video showing how to build an adobe house, with examples of simple but attractive house-designs.
  • A video which documents the benefits of choosing to build with adobe— TV-grade production.
  • Printed adobe building manual that parallels the how-to-build video for do-it-yourselfers—available on DVD and memory stick
  1. Promotional events celebrating the completion of adobe houses in Ethiopia

High-profile events in two areas will be a good kick-off for further local community conversation focusing on the benefits of switching to adobe. Who will be the next self-builders?

  • Durame – following the completion of 3 adobe model houses in three different communities in the Durame area.
  • Ambo – following the completion of 3 self-financed buildings in three different communities in the Ambo area.
  1. Hold an 5-day introductory adobe training course for local tradesmen

Select a group of carpenters and masons, plus a group of self-builders from the areas around Ambo and Durame for training. This group will receive a short technical training in how to build with adobe, as well as a presentation of the business advantages of using adobe. Trainees may need to travel to the Challia BTS. Or it may mean bringing trainers to train by building an actual adobe house in Ambo and Durame.

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