The rental market in Manyamula

The rental market in Manyamula

I often mention that when families are successful in their Small Business Fund businesses they begin to invest in burned bricks for their home. In rural Malawi there is a lot of space and land is relatively inexpensive. That means that even poor families can access land where they might build a home.

Harriet in front of the house she built with business profits and a low-interest loan and now rents out to a school teacher.

Harriet in front of the house she built with business profits and a low-interest loan and now rents out to a school teacher.

When we visited Malawi I was fascinated to be in a place where most young families dreamed of (or were actually working towards) building their own home.

Most of the houses in Manyamula Village are made of brick. Adobe might be a more accurate word, since the bricks are made of earth, and they may or may not be fired. The fired bricks last much longer because the rain easily breaks down the bricks that are only sun-dried. And they are also much more expensive: 10 Kwacha (USD $0.02) per burnt brick, compared with just 3 Kwacha for a dried one.

The Manyamula Rental Market

Brick maker in the pit of red earth which will be used to make the adobe bricks.

Brick maker in the pit of red earth which will be used to make the adobe bricks.

Because almost everyone builds their own homes, there aren’t a lot of places available for rent. So a few of the successful Small Business Fund groups have invested in building secondary buildings on their land to rent out to visiting school teachers, doctors, and other government officials to the village. A widow, Harriet now lives with other family members so that she can rent out her home for additional income. A school teacher pays her 3500 Kwacha (~USD $7.50) per month.

Across the street and down a few hundred yards, Reverend Isaac bought a plot of land for under $200. He hopes to have the rental house built in seven months. We visited while they were in the process of forming the 15,000 bricks needed for the home.

Bricks drying in the sun

Bricks drying in the sun

Red dirt is mixed with water and then slopped into a wood frame. The brick maker makes sure the earth is settled and leveled in the frame and then carries it to the drying area. With a *th-wunk* sound the bricks are dropped out of the frame onto the ground. The lines of bricks are covered with straw and left to dry in the sun for three days (we were there in the dry season, with no chance of rain). Then they will be stacked into kiln-like structures for firing.

Rural Electrification

People like Harriet and Isaac are taking advantage of the new electrification that is coming to Manyamula. We saw a few shops that were already tapped into the new grid. Mostly people are setting up wiring and electric boxes and are eager for the day they will be able to connect. The general consensus in Manyamula is that the electrification will bring more people to the village. When it does, some savvy business people will have nice burnt-brick rental places ready to offer them.

One of the first electricity towers in Manyamula Village. July 2014.

One of the first electricity towers in Manyamula Village. July 2014.

 

[UPDATE: In the comments, Marsha Johnson asked about solar power use. Here is a blog post about one of the solar panel systems that I saw in Malawi.]

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7 Comments on "The rental market in Manyamula"

  • Marsha Johnson says

    Tanya, are you aware of any SIA folks using solar? I believe it has great possibilities. Thank you for sharing about the unfolding housing process.
    Blessings all around,
    Marsha

  • Dennis Johnson says

    Exciting that these people are using their profits to build for a better future.
    Also exciting to hear about the electrification that’s coming.

  • Lana Runyan says

    Hi Tanya,
    What an exciting article! Unbelievable what you and Boyd saw and learned during your short trip to Malawi. Your sharing is inspirational and educational. It never ceases to amaze me what just a small donation can do. I know that God is smiling as this work progresses.

  • Tanya Cothran says

    We did see solar panels as well, Marsha! I just updated the blog to add a link to a post about one of the solar power systems we saw: https://spiritinaction.org/mbwenu-innovator/

Trackbacks

  • Trackback from I want a Kenyan cell phone! | Spirit in Action International
    Tuesday, 14 April, 2015

    […] I blogged about last week, people are excited about electricity coming to Manyamula, Malawi. So far, just a few shops have […]

  • Trackback from Success Story: "Darkness is cured" | Spirit in Action International
    Tuesday, 21 April, 2015

    […] Back in October 2012 I shared the success story of Hastings and Ruth Fuvu in Malawi. They had received a $150 Small Business Fund grant in early 2012, ramping up their business of selling tomatoes and onions in the market. This expanded business increased the family income enough to buy school uniforms for their children and seek medical attention for their daughter Miness, who experiences periodic seizures. The 2012 post ended with Fuvu’s dream to build a house of their own, using burnt bricks. […]

  • Trackback from Grant Update: Community Building in Malawi | Spirit in Action International
    Tuesday, 19 January, 2016

    […] See past construction updates here and read more about construction and electrification here. […]

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