Roads are a crucial part of everyday life, making a vital contribution to economic development and growth and bringing important social benefits. They are the lifeline of communities, providing access to jobs, markets, schools, health care, and more. In many underdeveloped countries, clay-based roads are typical. Problems arise during dry periods due to dust generation and during wet weather due to clay absorbing moisture, becoming slick and expanding, and causing major ruts and potholes which make it difficult for cars to drive or people to walk on. This is the case in the African country Eswatini [Swaziland], where the majority of their roads are clay-based and continually have issues of inaccessibility.
UNDERSTANDING LOCAL CONNECTIONS
Richard Busalive Bhembe from Eco-Green Developers (one of Cypher’s newest distributors), is very familiar with the roads in this region. He says there are a few main roads that connect the four geographical regions of the country. From these main roads stems a network of smaller feeder roads, where the majority of people live and use to commute daily either by private vehicle or public transportation in large buses.
WORRYING ABOUT BAD ROAD CONDITIONS
Inaccessible roads threaten the livelihoods of farmers. One resident described his difficulties to Bhembe during his last visit. “I’m a small farmer with vegetable production in a small land allocated by a chief at Sibebe Mountain. I would get a big order for cabbages, only for the rains to come and pour immediately before the client arrives” he says. “I had to discard all the harvested produce since it was spoiled because no car could make it through the slippery clay for two weeks. We also suffered a loss on unharvested produce since it also spoiled before reaching markets.”
Another resident mentions not being able to reach the hospital with their asthmatic daughter on rainy days because no car could drive on one of their clay roads.
“Even four-by-four vehicles could not help because of the high steep roads. Most cars got stuck and blocked the roads” they said. “School kids, sick people and tired working people could be forced to abandon cars and public transportation and walk all the way home on rainy days.”
FINDING CYPHER SOLUTIONS
To combat this problem, Eco-Green Developpers researched options to improve their roads and found Cypher Environmental’s ROAD//STABILIZR®, which is a long-term solution for stabilizing roads. ROAD//STABILIZR® targets clay-based soils by increasing their density and strength during compaction and providing enhanced stability, which leads to reduced swell capacity and permeability. It works on in-situ clay materials reducing the need for hauling in expensive aggregates.
The community, including Bhembe, rallied together and formed a development committee and presented the case to their local member of parliament (MP), where it was eventually passed along to Microprojects. Microprojects is a semi-autonomous organization under the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development that manages many development funds from various government ministries in the country.
KEEPING IT GREEN
When looking for options to improve their roads, the committee prioritized the environment. Most community residents consume untreated surface water from rivers and streams, and products applied to roads have the potential to run off and pollute the surface water. Nearby farmers also have concerns about road treatments contaminating their crops. The committee was reassured when they learned that Cypher’s products are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and non-corrosive. They are formulated to have very low to no run-off, and any trace amounts that do end up in water sources are completely harmless to humans, plants, and animals.
Using in-situ road materials was also important because it is very challenging to haul aggregate materials through the mountainous region. Loaded haul trucks would be unable to climb the steep elevations. Additionally, by using existing road materials, significant fuel is saved by avoiding these costly hauling trips.
The technology behind ROAD//STABILIZR® really impressed the committee. This unique product, an ionic based solution, was designed to aid with the workability, binding, and compaction of clay-based materials. The highly concentrated product contains organic catalysts, electrolytes, and surfactants, which work together to penetrate clay-based soils and alter the clay particles to become strong and semi-permanently bonded to each other. Once altered, the clay particles behave like a flexible cementing agent that locks the aggregate material in place. ROAD//STABILIZR® does all of this with absolutely zero environmental impact and provides long-term savings over the product life cycle in reduced maintenance fees and remaining accessible year-round.
Microprojects funded the procurement and application of ROAD//STABILIZR® for two roads at Ngudzeni and Ekufikeni, which were constructed by local contractor Encakini Construction. Eco-Green Developers, specializing in the green building of roads and buildings, coordinated the delivery of the project and coordinated all stakeholders to ensure the projects were a success.
Ngudzeni is a remote community in the Shiselweni region in the south where residents earn income by crop farming and raising livestock. Recently, a bridge was built to access schools and clinics in the area, and ROAD//STABILIZR® was installed on the bridge approaches to make it easier to access in inclement weather. The stretch of road on either side of the bridge was previously inaccessible during and after rain events.
ROAD//STABILIZR® was also installed along a stretch of road to access a medical clinic in the Ekufiken community, which is in the Hhohho region in the mountains. This area of the country is subject to high rainfall and steep roads. There is significant farming in the area and people commute to the nearest towns for business and work daily.
Both roads were built using standard construction equipment. All that is required is a grader, a water truck and a compactor.
ENSURING RELIABLE ACCESSIBILITY
Building better roads with ROAD//STABILIZR® has dramatically changed the quality of life for these communities. Residents are happier knowing that they can reach their jobs and access essential services without the worry of bad road conditions.
“The stabilized road strips have a great impact on the community, mainly the one at Ngudzeni, since it was difficult to cross the bridge on rainy days. Now it’s easy.” says Bhembe. “Cars can now easily drive without getting stuck and people can walk on the roads without the worry of getting mud on their feet. As a result of the positive impact of the product, many Eswatini communities have heard about ROAD//STABILIZR® and now want it installed on their roads as well.”
Eco-Green Developers looks forward to helping many more communities in the region with ROAD//STABILIZR® and DUST/BLOKR®, and we look forward to hearing how our products are improving life for their residents. Their initiative to improve transportation conditions for the Swazi people was the right thing to do. This project is exactly what motivates us to keep pushing for the adoption of environmentally-friendly road solutions worldwide.
Building better roads and better communities is easy when you have Cypher by your side. If you are looking to make a difference for communities near you, consider the success we have seen in Swaziland. We have distributors in over 40 countries who are ready to help you wherever you may be.
Cypher Environmental is a leading global environmental solution provider for dust control and road stabilization. With ESG (Environmental Social Governance) and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) principles at the core of every decision we make, we proudly boast the tag line, “Always do what’s right.”