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Brick Markets in West Sumatra after the 30 September 2009 Earthquake

Pariaman and Padang Districts, West Sumatra
October, 2009

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake stuck the coast of West Sumatra, Indonesia on September 30, 2009, causing over 1100 deaths and 3600 injuries as a result of collapsing buildings and landslides. Over 200,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged by the earthquake, with the greatest damages reported in Padang Pariaman district, where over 96% of the housing stock is in need of replacement or repair. Oxfam and an inter-agency team conducted this EMMA analysis shortly after the earthquake.

The purpose of this analysis is to examine the impact of the earthquake on the supply and demand of locally produced bricks, which are the preferred building material for residential reconstruction in West Sumatra. Following the EMMA methodology, the assessment team spoke with representative brick manufacturers, distributors and households in Padang Pariaman and Padang districts.

Brick-making is a labor-intensive, 5-step process. Pre-earthquake brick prices ranged considerably according to quality, seasonality, and transport costs. Both small and medium scale brick manufacturers use informal credit and selling arrangements with their customers and distributors. Local supply stores typically pay small-scale manufacturers for bricks once they have sold. All brick manufacturers have limited storage and warehousing space. Women make up 40-60% of the labor force of small and medium scale brick manufacturers.

Following the earthquake, brick production capability shrunk significantly for more than half of the manufacturers, especially the small-scale ones, due to kilns collapsing. Brick prices increased by 25-50% after the earthquake, and it is likely that the prices will continue to rise. On the demand side, households are switching their preferences from brick masonry houses to brick and timber ones due to safety and cost concerns. The authors of this report suggest three possible reconstruction scenarios: 1) earthquake damages to regional brick production capability will likely lead to higher brick prices and delays in rural housing reconstruction; 2) Small-scale brick manufacturers will be slow to resume pre-earthquake production levels without financial assistance or favorable credit terms; 3) The preference and demand for transitional shelters using timber and bricks is high and likely to increase in the future.

At the shelter cluster level, this report recommends providing technical guidelines on safe building techniques for hybrid construction, mapping out locations of small-scale brick manufacturers, encouraging the local procurement of bricks and forming a technical working group to improve the quality of local brick production. It also suggests that NGOs and IOs should provide microcredit loans or cash grants to small-scale brick manufacturers while considering the possible environmental impact of increased brick production. Finally, it recommends that government plans for financial compensation to earthquake-affected households should reflect the expected increase in price of bricks, and that the government should not prioritize the reconstruction of government buildings over rural housing reconstruction to avoid further increases in the local brick price.

Report authors: 
Rick Bauer, Jonathan Brass
Download Report (180.06 KB pdf)