Concrete blocks for urban erosion control

Terraforce blocks were used in various applications for earth stabilisation and erosion control in settlements around Mbabane, Swaziland. Terraforce blocks have been used in another urban upgrading project which was initiated by the Ministry of Urban Development in Swaziland. In some of the settlements around Mbabane, steeply sloping and easily eroded topography in this high rainfall area posed a particular challenge to the local town planners. In order to prevent further damage to the environment, remedial measures were implemented, using manual labour as much as possible.

Terraforce L11 blocks and Terracrete hard lawn blocks were used for specific applications. The blocks were manufactured by Milito Precast of Manzini, under licence to Terraforce  in Cape Town. Terracrete blocks were used for stormwater drainage channels. The blocks were filled with soil or ‘soilcrete’, depending on the anticipated velocity or volume of water flow in different channels. Terracrete blocks were also used to establish hard surfaces for parking refuse collection bins at particular locations.

Terraforce blocks, filled with soil or concrete as required, were used to form cascades, stilling basins, small diversion weirs, drift crossings and weirs across small streams. The blocks were also used to build gravity retaining walls where required for road widening or improved stormwater drainage.

Michael Toepfer, owner of Milito Precast, says the Terraforce products were selected because they provided cost-effective, environmentally sound solutions, as well as job opportunities. “The blocks are manageable enough to be installed using manual labour and many otherwise unemployed locals managed to find work during this project. Lots of smaller walls were built so no heavy machinery was required and the local people, armed with shovels and picks, were able to lay the blocks themselves. The workforce came directly from the informal settlements and was trained and monitored by recommended contractors and supervisors.”

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