There are two main facets to Dr Burroughs' involvement in increasing the capability and capacity of Indigenous communities. The first is training in aspects such as earth block building and construction. The second involves the development and project management of facilities and infrastructure, for example, waste material recycling plants.
Dr Burroughs has developed, organised, and run training programmes on various topics in African countries and in Australia, and have written training manuals for many of them. The training programmes included training in building/construction techniques, rammed earth construction, and the manufacture and use of compressed earth blocks/bricks. The programmes were based in impoverished regions and disadvantaged communities, and were aimed at building community capacity. The overall aim of the training aspect of capacity-building is to empower the trainers to continue the training process without the need for further assistance after the training is finished.
An essential element of the overall success of such projects is the ability to develop and implement a ‘train the trainers’ program. Dr Burroughs has developed and implemented a careful selection process for the trainers including multi-lingual skills, social skills, environmental interest, and enthusiasm for learning.
In addition, Dr Burroughs has applied the results of his research into rammed earth construction materials and compressed earth block manufacture to help enable Indigenous communities easily learn and practically apply the material preparation and construction techniques to their own building projects, through training courses run for transferring skills to local Indigenous people. Examples of his research into rammed earth construction, published in international peer-reviewed journals, can be found by clicking here.
Facilities and infrastructure
Dr Burroughs' expertise includes initiating plans for and project managing various types of facility and infrastructure in Indigenous communities. This requires engagement with a diverse set of stakeholders, including community members, private enterprises, and government agencies. Examples of such projects include formulating plans for a business and community centre in the remote community of Yarrabah (northeastern Queensland, Australia), and developing a material recycling facility (MRF) in the township of Cherbourg (Queensland, Australia).
Waste Material Recycling Facilities and Sustainability in a Remote Community
Remote communities are subject to some of the same environmental problems as are urban areas, although the scale and constraining factors differ. One such problem is the volume of municipal waste and the extent of recycling. In Australia, remote communities are disadvantaged by prevailing economic and social processes and by a lack of investment and infrastructure, meaning that the incidence of recycling is lower than in urban areas. However, some of these communities are working toward sustainability and actively building capacity for recycling by leveraging both internal and external resources. One such example is the proposed Material Recycling Facility (MRF) in the remote indigenous community of Cherbourg in Queensland. This project studied the establishment of the Cherbourg MRF, the first such facility in a remote indigenous community in the country. The study examined the various stages involved in developing the project, including conceptualisation, design, business feasibility, waste audit, environmental impact assessment, procurement methodology, project management, construction, and operation. Environmental principles were considered and applied to the process of establishing the MRF, meaning that both the facility and its function are sustainably based. Importantly, the MRF is being used as an educational tool for sustainability from school through to university levels. The establishment of the MRF in Cherbourg enhances environmental sustainability and also assists in economic development in the community as recycled materials are processed and sold. Implications and recommendations for setting up recycling facilities in other remote indigenous communities are drawn from the Cherbourg project.
Rubbish dumping problem near Cherbourg prior to the operation of the material recycling facility.
The material recycling facility in operation in 2014.
An impression of the site plan for the Cherbourg material recycling facility.