In the brick factories : the environment

Alex Pinder and I have been running art projects in the brick factories in Nepal for the past two years (see for more stories.     People come to the Kathmandu valley from all over rural Nepal and parts of India to work in the brick factories. It is hard work, with many social, environmental, health and ethical problems attached to it.    These photos give an insight into the landscape in which we and the brick people work. Dry, dusty and filthy.  There is little water,  poor sanitation, many health issues for the workers, child labour as well as poor access to health and education.  The brick firing process is fueled by coal – the entire Kathmandu valley is choked by the smoke.   




On the way to the art project



The kiln chimney with accommodation blocks in the front. Most of the taller chimneys collapsed in the 2015 Nepal earthquake and have been rebuilt, but are much shorter now.



As trucks transport the bricks out of the factories they kick up huge plumes of dust. People are constantly showered by it and consequently suffer many skin and eye infections.



fired bricks at the rear being carried out by hand. Unfired bricks in the front – carried in by hand



Accommodation for brick carriers – where we held the art project. The huts are built anew each year. There is no mortar or structural strength in these cabins – a dangerous situation in an earthquake.



View across the valley. A brick maker’s hut in the front with a fence of drying bricks to the side. The valley is choked with toxic fumes.



the brick kiln with newly made and drying bricks in the front



Ponds of water where the clay is prepared for the bricks. These are hazards for small children who are known to fall in and drown.



Drying bricks are laid out to dry in mesmerizing patterns.







A view across a nearby valley and brick factory. Some of the children we teach live here. We look down upon this scene on our walk back – finding it hard to believe this is the 21st century.



The valley landscape surrounding the brick factories is stunning. Nearby are wealthy areas but little of this is felt in this working environment.



Cast iron lids over the chutes into which the coal is poured to fire the kilns. This is dangerous work, done by people who need to be skilled if they are to avoid serious burns.



In the foreground the brick carriers’ huts. We ran the art project in a tiny space between the rows of accommodation. In the middle ground, a cafe. To the middle right, coal.