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Brick Workers

Photographer: Abir Abdullah

 

About 11,000 brickfields are established across Bangladesh to meet the growing demand of construction works as urbanization rises rapidly in the country. Around 4,000 brick kilns burn nearly two million tons of coal and two million tons of firewood annually, according to the Bangladeshi Department of Environment.

 

Male and female poor laborers migrate to brickfields to find seasonal jobs despite the hard conditions and low salaries. Brick workers still use 150-year-old techniques: collecting soil from humid areas, mixing it with water, molding the bricks by hand, drying them in the sun before they are fired in traditional kilns.

 

Most of the brickfields are built without respecting clear environmental policies, exposing brick workers to major health risks. Farmlands are being exhausted and water and soil polluted. A massive deforestation is the further result of the 25 to 26 per cent of the national wood production being used to fire bricks each year.

 

In a recent global survey, Bangladesh ranked 131st among 132 countries in controlling air pollution with regard to its effect on human health.