Humbi home – volunteer center


Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Rural, farm

15 ha / dormitories, communal spaces, rooms, toilets

Design, Supervision

Fundación Khanimambo

Local workers + training Sustainable materials e.g. bio construction, superadobe, wood,
permaculture principles

Humbi home

The existing Centro Munti has been in service to the community of Praia de Xai-Xai for 12 years.   There are many facilities that the children can use – seven classrooms, kitchen and a dining room with capacity to feed 400 children daily, a health center, library, computer room, bathrooms and showers, and an outdoor space with playground. It has managed to do that for all this time, growing in a very natural way. It is deeply connected with the local community and it provides help in the areas where the government’s solutions are inadequate. Many lives have been positively transformed because of that and the community has benefited tremendously.
Now they are at a stage where they want to become self-sustainable, grow their own food, have accommodation facilities for the volunteers, spaces for workhops and many other things.  That’s how the Humbi project came to be.

At the heart of the  project is a 15 hectare ecological farm based on permaculture principles that is the first part of the project to be developed. It is being done with local agriculture and permaculture experts. Within a few years the farm is to provide all the food for the existing  Center, allow additional income through the sale of organic products and offer employment to local people, women in particular. The complementary facilities will also generate income and provide new opportunities and partnerships. New Volunteer centre is to offer accommodation eliminating current rent costs needed to host volunteers and providing extra income from guests that will be able to stay at the premises. Future workshops/classrooms are to offer additional training and courses.

Field research about what is sustainable and available locally, in terms of the materials, construction methods and the local know-how, is an essential part of each project like this. You work with what is there. The soil is very sandy and there are people who have successfully done superadobe construction in the vicinity. A neighbouring village sits close to rare clay deposits and has a long burnt clay brick production tradition. Traditional house – canhiso, is made out of wood and straw and both are available in abundance. Plenty of expensive beach resorts show high expertise in building with wood and making high quality traditional thatched roofs. This information is then translated into construction elements and it’s clear from the beginning which materials are to be used and why.

Use of concrete and cement has been kept to a minimum and they are to be used only partly for foundations and columns. Almost half of the Humbi Home complex is to be done using superadobe technique, the rest using wood and burnt clay bricks that are traditionally done in the neighbouring villages. There are no metal roof panels, only thatched roofs, vaulted brick ceilings covered with lime mortar or vines covering outdoor areas. Additionally, a lot of attention has been given to achieve good natural ventilation. Solar panels are to be used for electricity. The inner courtyard is just a small part of a big eco-farm that is to surround the complex.