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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 1 (HABITAT, 1994, 44 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe aim of the network and its journal
View the documentForeword
View the documentUganda: Follow-up actions with regard to the recommendations of the Workshop of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies
View the documentUnited Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) - Istanbul, Turkey 3-14 June 1996 - “The City Summit”1
View the documentA strategy for effective participation of the African region in the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)2
View the documentHabitat II Preparatory Process and the Construction Sector
View the documentTechnology profile No. 1: Blended cements*
View the documentTechnology profile No. 2: Phosphogypsum as building material**
View the documentTechnology profile No. 3: Utilization of fly ash in the production of building materials***
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications review - Published by UNCHS (Habitat)


United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)
Nairobi, 1995


The aim of the network and its journal

The Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies aims at strengthening local technological capacity through facilitating information flow, regional cooperation and the transfer of appropriate technologies in low-cost and innovative building materials sectors in African countries.

The Journal of the Network, currently published biannually, aims to provide a channel of information that could be used by professionals, technicians, researchers, scientists as well as policy and decision makers. It is a medium for information exchange and a facilitator for acquisition of suitable technologies and know-how.

Efforts are made to compile, process and publish articles and technical papers originated mainly in the African region, however, as deemed appropriate and subject to availability, research findings and technological information from countries outside the African region are also included to stimulate inter-regional cooperation as well.


This Journal welcomes information or articles on low-cost innovations in building-materials technology. Information in the form of technical and policy papers, illustrations, news items and announcements of events can be sent from individuals or institutions in the private or public sector, from within and outside the African region. All correspondence on the Journal should be addressed to the Chief, Building and Infrastructure Technology Section, Research and Development Division, UNCHS (Habitat), P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi Kenya.

The views expressed in this Journal do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations. Mention of firm names and commercial products do not imply the endorsement of UNCHS (Habitat). The reprinting of any of the material in this publication is welcome, provided that the source is mentioned and one copy sent to UNCHS (Habitat).

National Network Institutions

Housing and Architecture Department
Ministry of Town Planning and Housing
Yaounde, Cameroon

Department of Civil Engineering
University of Addis Ababa

Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI)
Kumasi University

Housing and Building Research Institute (HABRI)
College of Architecture and Engineering
University of Nairobi, Kenya

Lesotho Housing and Land
Development Cooperation
Maseru, Lesotho

Department of Civil Engineering
The Polytechnic
University of Malawi, Malawi

Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering
University of Malta, Malta

School of Industrial Technology
University of Mauritius, Mauritius

Ministry of Local Government and Housing
Windhoek, Namibia

Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI)
Lagos, Nigeria

Faculty of Engineering
Fourah Bay College
University of Sierra Leone
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Centre Technique des Materiaux de Construction de la Ceramique et du Verre (CTMCCV)
Tunis, Tunisia

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development
Kampala, Uganda

Building Research Unit (BRU)
Dar-es-Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania
National Housing Authority
Lusaka, Zambia

Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing
Harare, Zimbabwe


Kalyan Ray


Baris Der-Petrossian


The General Assembly of the United Nations, at its forty-seventh session in 1992, decided to convene the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) to be held in 1996, twenty years after the first Conference on Human Settlements was held in Vancouver, Canada. The Conference, while addressing critical human settlements issues and problems, will initiate world-wide action to improve shelter and the living environment, especially for low-income, poor and marginalized groups.

This issue is being devoted to the Habitat II Conference in order to familiarize readers of this Journal with the Conference and its preparatory process at national and regional levels. Efforts have been made to include some information on this event, including the need for the Conference, its substantive themes and the preparatory process. Summary findings of an African Expert-Group Meeting on “Effective Participation of the African Region in the Preparatory Process of Habitat II” held in Nairobi, in February 1994, is also included. The findings of the meeting address critical issues in the African region such as shelter, disaster preparedness, poverty and the environment, and proposes a set of action plans at local, national and regional levels which are relevant to the construction sector.

Recognizing the importance of the construction sector activities in achieving the goals of “adequate shelter for all”, a special article has been included focusing on the opportunity the Habitat II preparatory process provides, to address with renewed vigour the construction sector needs of the African region. The article highlights the key constraints affecting the development of the construction sector in the region and proposes a number of measures and policy options on how these constraints could be overcome.

As in previous issues, readers will also find selected technical articles on research findings and technologies related to building materials. This issue focuses on the use of industrial wastes in the production of low-cost building materials.

I hope that readers will find this publication both useful and interesting and that it will serve to stimulate and encourage not only the professional community but all other actors on the housing scene to contribute to the Habitat II Conference and its preparatory activities.

Dr. Wally N’Dow
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

Uganda: Follow-up actions with regard to the recommendations of the Workshop of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies

Uganda is informing UNCHS (Habitat) on the follow-up actions it has undertaken pursuant to the recommendations of the Workshop of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies held from 6 to 8 September 1993 in Nairobi, Kenya.

“In order to harmonize and increase the effectiveness of Uganda’s collaboration and contribution to the Network, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has held a meeting on 17 February 1994 during which an “Interim Coordinating Committee” was established to coordinate the activities of the Network. The meeting was attended by representatives from academic (tertiary) institutions, private sector, NGOs, individuals and Government Departments. The appointed members of the Committee comprise:

· Eng. Dr. B. M. Kiggundu from the Department of Civil Engineering, Makerere University, Kampala.
· Eng. W. Okello from Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Housing Department.
· Mr. B. K. Okot, Technical Manager, National Housing and Construction Corporation.

The specific tasks assigned to the Committee include:

· Documentation of activities undertaken by the different Institutions/Organizations in the country which are relevant to the objective of the Network.

· Drawing up of an Action Plan and related budgetary requirements to facilitate the implementation of the Network activities.

· Organization of sensitization Workshop for the potential beneficiaries”.

The poor must be helped to upgrade their homes and neighbourhoods

Photo: Edwards/UNCHS

United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) - Istanbul, Turkey 3-14 June 1996 - “The City Summit”1

1/ In the preparation of this paper, the report of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) entitled: “United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II): Substantive Issues and Draft Guidelines for Preparations and Reporting at the Country Level” (HS/C/14/14 of 7 April 1993) and presented to the Commission on ‘ Human Settlements at its fourteenth session held from 26 April to 5 May 1993 was used as reference.


The grave deterioration of living conditions the world over has prompted governments to call upon the United Nations to hold the second UN Conference on Human Settlements: HABITAT II. The Conference will confront the emerging urban crisis and initiate urgent worldwide action to improve shelter and living environments. The overall goal of the Conference is to make the world’s cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, equitable and sustainable.


HABITAT II will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 1996, twenty years after the first UN Conference on Human Settlements: HABITAT held in Vancouver, Canada. Whilst HABITAT I drew international attention to problems in settlements of all kinds, rural as well as urban, HABITAT II will focus on cities and towns as they will accommodate a growing majority of the world’s population in the coming century.


The Rio Conference on Environment and Development was labelled the “Earth Summit”. Its purpose was to commit the highest levels of government to the goal of saving a planet endangered by excessive consumption on the one hand, and poverty and underdevelopment, on the other. But most of the actions agreed to in Rio can only become reality through localized action focused on the places where development challenges and environmental threats are increasingly concentrated - cities.


It is expected that national delegations at the City Summit will include representatives from local authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the professional and academic communities, business and industry, as well as civic and community groups.


HABITAT II will deepen understanding of urban challenges and opportunities so that realistic steps can be taken at city, country and international levels to overcome the problems and enrich the potentials of urban life. Governments and international agencies will draw up a Global Plan of Action and make commitments to provide resources and to embark on new partnerships with other urban actors including local authorities, NGOs, business and communities, to deliver short- and long-term improvements to the living conditions of people worldwide, including:

· affordable housing
· safe neighbourhoods and streets
· health, education and community services
· improved public utilities
· protection from health hazards and natural disasters
· safe and affordable public transport

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, United Nations Secretary-General


..... The City Summit encompasses many issues. There are hard questions to answer. How can we improve the governance and finance of human settlements? What policies are needed to improve conditions for the poorest people, families and communities? How can we ensure basic hygienic conditions in urban areas, while avoiding long-term damage to the environment? Can we ensure that, by a target date, adequate shelter will exist for all? What must be done to mitigate the effects of natural disaster and war? Can the cycle of deprivation, conflict, devastation and failure to develop be broken?

Wally N’Dow, Secretary-General, Habitat II


HABITAT II is more than a conference. It is a recognition by the international community - an awakening, if you will - that time is running out on us, that if we want to save the future, we have no choice other than to find answers today to one of the most neglected and urgent problems of our time, one that goes to the very heart of our everyday lives - how we live, where we live, and, above all, if we live.


A unique feature of this Conference will be the involvement of citizens, community groups, local authorities, academics and professionals, the media, the profit and non-profit making private sector and NGOs in the preparatory processes at country levels in the run-up to June 1996. Countries are called upon to:

· Set up a National Committee engaging all the main actors mentioned above.

· Adopt a two-year work plan for national preparations.

· Make an assessment of shelter, settlements and urbanization issues and strategies through the application of rural and urban indicators and the identification of best practices.

· Prepare a National Plan of Action containing shelter and sustainable settlements objectives, legislation and budgetary actions.

· Encourage initiatives of local coalitions of key actors and community groups in formulating local plans of action.


National Progress Reports to the Secretariat by 1 December 1994
Preparatory Committee II in Nairobi, Kenya, 24 April-5 May 1995
Preparatory Committee III in New York, February 1996
The City Summit (HABITAT II) in Istanbul, Turkey, 3-14 June 1996


The human settlements crisis that confronts virtually all human beings - rich or poor, urban or rural - is increasingly being recognized by all nations. It is a crisis that comes from distant rural areas to the depth of urban ghettos in cities now exploding at a rate and pace never dreamed possible. The result is that in another few years not long after the dawn of the 21st century a new urban world will come into being.

In fact, at no other time in history have so many human beings lived in such poverty and misery as today. The agony and despair of those who lack the basic necessities of life - food, shelter and health - cannot be quantified. Recent estimates, however give a global figure of one billion people living below the poverty line. High population growth and rapid urbanization, both predominantly in the developing countries, are the two striking characteristics of the past two decades. It was against this background that the General Assembly of the United Nations decided in December 1992, to convene a second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).

The convening of the Habitat II Conference comes at a pivotal point in history for harnessing scientific, technological and organizational tools for improving the living environment of all people. It is also a unique and welcome challenge for the people working with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). The Conference offers a historical opportunity to document, with a degree of penetration never attempted before, the nature, extent and depth of settlement problems humanity is now facing in a rapidly urbanizing world; to understand what has gone wrong; to document and analyse the many good things that have happened; to identify opportunity; and to build, on the basis of this new knowledge, a vision of a better world to come that we can all build together, with full respect for cultural identity.


In light of the decisions of the General Assembly and the views put forward by the organizational session of the Preparatory Committee, it is clear that national governments are looking to the Habitat II Conference to concern themselves with settlements and urban policies which will be innovative and enabling, and capable of generating sustainable economic growth, alleviating poverty and enhancing the urban environment.

Governments are also expecting that the Conference will address: (a) the integration and participation of the urban and rural poor in the political, social and economic life of human settlements; and (b) capacity-building at the community, local and national levels to enhance the efficient management of human settlements and the effective implementation of national human settlements development policies. Finally, it is clear from the issues elaborated by the General Assembly and the Preparatory Committee that the issue of resources - human, financial and technological - will have to be an a priori concern at the Habitat II Conference, especially given the need to use these limited resources more efficiently.

The objectives of the Conference as spelt out in General Assembly resolution 47/180 of 22 December 1992 include, inter alia, the adoption of “a general statement of principles and commitments” and a “global plan of action capable of guiding national and international efforts through the first two decades of the next century”. The substantive part of such a plan of action should include:

· guidelines for national settlements policies and strategies to eradicate urban and rural poverty and promote sustainable economic development;

· programmes and sub-programmes to implement relevant elements of Agenda 21 in order to promote environmentally sustainable human settlements;

· proposals for the mobilization of human, financial and technical resources, internationally and nationally, from the private and public sector, to implement Agenda 21 programmes; and

· measures to strengthen national, metropolitan and municipal institutions and machinery in order to enhance human settlements development.

During the discussions at the organizational session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) specific issues were elaborated. Some of these represent a confirmation of concerns already expressed in General Assembly resolution 47/180, or refinements of previously-stated issues, while others were new. These issues are summarized as follows:

(a) Implementation of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 and human settlements-related parts of Agenda 21, including technology issues;

(b) Eradication of poverty - urban and rural poverty issues and human settlements;

(c) A comprehensive plan of action based on capacity-building and the enabling approach;

(d) Housing policies and finance - regulatory regimes for housing, building and land-use management and the role of the private sector;

(e) Promoting investment as a contribution to economic growth, employment and improvement of the quality of life;

(f) Economic and spatial policies and development strategies for rural and urban settlements, their sustainable interaction and linkages and interdependence;

(g) The contribution of cities to global sustainable development.


Considering the major areas of concern and issues elaborated in the previous section and given the crucial importance of “urbanization” and “adequate shelter” as endorsed by the General Assembly, two central themes have emerged for Habitat II which would assist national governments and communities to harmonize their efforts in the course of the preparatory process. These two themes are:

(a) Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world;
(b) Adequate shelter for all.


The above-mentioned issues and concerns necessitate the formulation of a new human settlements agenda, the definition of which is based on three compelling objectives:

(a) To form a positive vision of the urbanized world of the future in order to inspire forward-looking principles and actions;

(b) To manage human settlements of all sizes better, and to arrest the social and physical deterioration of the human environment;

(c) To place human settlements within the macro-economic and social context in order to understand better the pivotal role investments in human settlements can play in bringing about equitable social development, economic growth and a better quality of life.

The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and the process leading up to it can focus the attention of the world on:

(a) Recognizing human settlements development as a strategic cross-cutting dimension of the development process;

(b) Helping to reorient governmental, donor and lender interventions in an urbanizing world;

(c) Redefining the role of UNCHS (Habitat) and strengthening its capacity to respond effectively to global, national and local human settlements challenges in the next two decades;

(d) Recommending appropriate United Nations organizational arrangements to implement and monitor the global plan of action.


First, we must define the Habitat II goal in terms that are comprehensible to everybody and that mobilize the world’s commitment, energy and imagination. Habitat II cannot be a celebratory event. There is little reason to celebrate the fact that more people live in poverty than was the case 20 years ago; that more people - women, men and children - are living today in unhealthy and precarious housing conditions than ever before in the history of humanity; that the settlements of the world, both developed and developing, find it increasingly difficult to ensure acceptable social, economic and, in particular, environmental conditions to all their citizens. All of these problems are becoming worse in urban areas, and increasingly so in rapidly growing large agglomerations. Cities, poverty and the environment are realities that everybody understands: they are respectively issues, problems and values that we all share and identify with.

Second, we must reach out to our constituencies. Habitat II, like other United Nations conferences, is called for by governments for governments. Yet governments, and this is an emerging reality world-wide, are ultimately accountable to citizens. Also the scope and range of action of central governments is becoming much more limited in terms of what they can do themselves. They can, however, become a powerful force and amplify the impact of their legislative, regulatory and promotional action if they succeed in mobilizing local action; in acting strategically rather than controlling indiscriminately; in developing the humility to understand, and the vision to act according to a humane and, thus, intelligent perception of the problems at hand. If we can use Habitat II as an opportunity to reach out to all our constituencies at the global, national and local levels, and thus capture the win-win options at hand, we shall set in motion processes, the beneficial effects of which will go far beyond the 1996 Conference itself.

Third, and finally, we must develop a truly global perception of critical human settlements issues and opportunities. For too long we have worked on the assumption that the North has everything to teach, and the South has everything to learn. We must start thinking in terms of a two-way flow. There is a lot that the North can share with the South in terms of national and local experiences in human settlements planning, development and management; in transparent and participatory approaches to decision-making and local development. But there are many lessons that everybody can learn from the South. Thus, one of the challenges for the preparatory process is also to document innovative and successful experiences and to use the process itself to set up a global capacity for identifying, documenting and exchanging experiences on a continuous basis, paying particular attention to local and community-level action. This, too, will help us to develop a momentum which will go well beyond the Conference itself.


The consideration of key issues and areas of concern mentioned above have one ultimate objective: to make the Habitat II Conference a success. Although criteria for success is difficult to predetermine, it is felt that three essential elements will be needed: focus, realization and participation.

(a) Focus

The Conference will not be able to, nor should it, cover all aspects of social and economic development. It will, on the contrary, serve a very important purpose if it can show how sustainable-settlements management can make a major contribution to achieving this goal. An attempt should, however, be made to focus on three main areas, namely: policy; democratization and capacity-building; resource mobilization and investment.

(b) Realization

It will be essential to avoid building unrealistic expectations on the amount of external resources that the Conference well be capable of mobilizing. Even under the most favourable conditions, external funding is only a fraction of the total amount of resources devoted to human settlements in all countries. Although a larger flow of external funding and assistance to human settlements development is a desirable outcome, sustainability can only be achieved in the medium and long term by using scarce external resources in a strategic and catalytic way. Defining this will be a major challenge for the Conference and another element of its success.

(c) Participation

In the past, many United Nations conferences have culminated in a decision-making process for governments and a separate forum for non-governmental organizations from all over the world using the Conference as an occasion to meet and discuss common strategies. Participatory processes at the country level should lead to one United Nations Conference on Human Settlements: an event capable of coalescing the views and commitments emerging from all countries into one vision, one commitment and one global action programme based on consensus and constructive dedication to a common goal.

Construction of buildings using appropriate technologies and materials can contribute to structural stability of buildings

A strategy for effective participation of the African region in the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)2

2/ This paper is a summary of the findings of an expert-group meeting on the above-mentioned subject. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 to 25 February 1994. The meeting was attended by 52 participants from 15 African countries and representatives of some inter-governmental organizations such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Shelter-Afrique.


Towards formulating an African common position on the Habitat II Conference


The economic and social crisis in Africa over the past fifteen years has profoundly affected every aspect of its social and political institutions, hampering human development activities at local and national levels. The crisis has been exacerbated by rapid population growth, political conflicts, natural disasters, refugee movements, inappropriate development policies, and the failure on the part of some governments to involve civil society in national development. Economic reforms, which African governments have been forced to implement against the background of depressed commodity prices, declining foreign assistance, withdrawal of private lending, increased protectionism and unsustainable levels of debt, have compounded the situation. Although these reforms are an important component of a balanced national development strategy, the short-term impact on ordinary people as well as on the capacity of governments to provide answers to critical issues of human settlements and poverty have not been encouraging. Few African countries have achieved progress in any of the indicators that measure real, sustainable development. Instead, most have slid backwards into growing inequality and poverty, ecological degradation and de-industrialization. Adjustment has been achieved by curtailing investment in social services and by incurring more debts.

The review of Africa’s economic and social crisis in the context of human settlements development reveals a number of critical issues which must serve as milestones in preparing Africa’s position for Habitat II:

Thematic priorities

(1) The need to capitalise on a vibrant civil society

Africans have shown tremendous energy and capacity to survive in spite of their continent’s unfavourable economic and political conditions. Where national governments have failed to articulate new directions for development, citizens groups are trying to provide alternative visions of survival and local governance. Unfortunately, the energy and resourcefulness of ordinary Africans have not been adequately harnessed by governments at either local or national level. On the contrary, the current policies or lack of policies of some governments have resulted in deteriorating settlements conditions for the vast majority.

The growing gap between the state and civil society has become a major obstacle in some countries to achieving sustainable development. This gap not only has a negative effect on the economy, it inhibits the ability of governments to manage more complex issues such as human settlements and sustainable management of environment and natural resources. More importantly, the state loses public support - an important ingredient in development. As a result, we are witnessing a shift in the balance of power from the state to civil society. The vibrancy of these new institutions in civil society contrasts vividly with their lack of political power and resources.

The potential of Africa lies in more enabling institutional and policy frameworks which foster equitable and sustainable human settlements, socially and by gender. 3 The solution for Africa’s problem can only be found within Africa; African governments should give priority to mobilizing their own resources for national development.

3/ The principle of participation is enshrined in African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (Addis Ababa: February 1990).

(2) Rural-urban interaction and linkages

The nature and pace of urbanisation in Africa is unprecedented. By the year 2020, over fifty per cent of Africans will live in urban areas. Despite this trend, a substantial proportion of the African population will remain in rural areas. A sustainable approach to Africa’s development must therefore address all aspects of human settlements irrespective of the spatial distribution of its population. This creates a unique challenge: a concerted effort to address constructively the rural-urban dynamics in the world’s most rapidly urbanising continent. The key is to foster a balanced national development strategy capable of improving living conditions of all. Clearly, the state must play a central role in initiating, encouraging and supporting initiatives at all levels.

(3) Urban informal sector

A third important characteristic of the African economy and human settlements development is the so-called “informal sector”. Individual, family-based or collective micro-enterprises are the most common in the urban economic environment, yet they do not benefit from any financial or technical support and the existing legal framework tends to restrict their success. In fact, both local and central government policies have largely been negative towards the informal sector. How these dominant groups should receive the policy attention and encouragement they deserve is a critical question.

(4) Gender and human settlements development

In Africa, the colonial impact on gender division of labour is still visible today. Men were recruited to economic centres (mines, plantations and administrative urban centres). Women were left in rural areas with full responsibility for food production and caring for families, or employed as domestic workers. This legacy has been further reinforced in the post-independence period by urbanization and rural-urban migration patterns which have resulted in a rapid growth of women-headed households both in rural and urban areas. It is estimated that women-headed households tend to be poorer than other households.

As a result, African women play multiple roles in the human settlements development process. They produce food, manage households, build houses, provide services. They combine these economic functions with reproductive functions, rearing children and taking care of communities. As a survival strategy, women often rely on young girls in the household to help them manage all their responsibilities. As a result, girl children are disadvantaged compared to boy children in their access to education.

Women’s groups and organizations in Africa have taken the lead in promoting environmental management and sanitation in rural and urban areas. They have become key actors in soil conservation, reforestation, waste recycling, and sanitation as well as developing urban agriculture. Their needs are still addressed at the policy-making level and their contribution remains largely unrecognised. They face obstacles directly related to their unequal access to human settlements resources, such as property and finance, inheritance laws, training and education, and appropriate technology. This situation undermines their capacity to improve their economic livelihood and that of entire communities.

It is therefore, incumbent upon African governments to create a supportive environment to sustain their women’s contributions to social, economic and environmental development by enabling their full participation in the decision-making process at all levels. In particular, efforts must be made to improve women’s access to productive resources such as land, and to reorient critical supportive services such as training and credit to support their initiatives in human settlements development.

Thematic areas

The above broad conclusions are based on a thorough examination of five key priority areas identified by UNCHS (Habitat) and endorsed at a meeting of African experts:

(a) Poverty;
(b) Shelter;
(c) Environment;
(d) Governance; and
(e) Relief to development continuum.

In examining each of the five key topics, several issues arise which are presented below.


In Africa, a large proportion of the population lives in absolute poverty. Increasingly, however, poverty is becoming an urban phenomenon. The most vulnerable, especially the women and children, in some cases have no political or economic power. This situation clearly indicates that no meaningful results can be achieved for the majority of Africans if the economic basis for supporting social progress is not established in a sustainable and equitable manner.

While urbanization in Africa is accelerating, the growth of the urban economy and its capacity to generate employment and provide access to shelter has been very limited. As a result, a substantial number of urban residents are engaged in subsistent income-generating activities, and a very high percentage of shelter provision generated by the informal sector. The lack of a clear-cut urban policy with respect to land use, licensing and registration of mini enterprises, zoning, access to credit and training has frustrated the initiatives and dynamism of the informal sector.

The achievement of Africa’s economic recovery and the reduction of urban poverty depends critically on the ability of governments to mobilize their population in the development process. Policy-makers have failed in most cases to acknowledge the role of the informal sector in the urban economy. Poverty alleviation in the urban context can only be effective if policy frameworks are established to enhance rather than inhibit the spirit of entrepreneurship and resourcefulness of all Africans. This will require expanding access to credit, training, management and appropriate technology by the informal sector enterprises. Governments alone cannot solve these problems; the private sector and NGOs must be allowed to play a significant role in job creation, training and provision of credit and other necessary support to community groups and the informal sector.

Besides creating an enabling environment within the economy, local authorities and national governments should promote participatory judicial practices at the local level in order to empower communities to stop the epidemic of urban violence, crime and general insecurity.


Shelter provision is a key sector in any economy. Its performance is critical because of its impact on the broader issues of economic and social development. Yet shelter continues to be viewed by many African governments as a social service rather than an economic investment. Access to housing should be recognized not only as a basic need, but also as a basic human right.4 Viewed in this context, the human settlements development paradigm becomes the corner stone of both bottom-up and top-down approaches to development.

4/The meeting of basic needs have been declared a global entitlement in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 22: (Right to Social Security)
Article 25: (Standard of living adequate for wellbeing)
Article 26: (Right to education...)

The Preamble of the African Charier on People’s and Human Rights (1987) reads:

“convinced that it is henceforth essential to pay a particular attention to the right to development and that civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, cultural and social rights in their conception as well as universality and the satisfaction of economic, cultural and political and civic rights”.

While many African governments have adopted the principles of the Global Shelter Strategy, most of the strategies have fallen short of creating the necessary enabling environment for shelter provision. The key impediments have been the lack of sufficient loanable funds due to restrictive banking policies and practices, insufficient mobilisation of domestic savings; limited access to land by the poor, inadequate land-use planning and out-moded inheritance and property rights customs, particularly as they relate to women.

The urbanization and shelter problems in Africa seem unmanageable on the surface, but solutions to problems can only be found in the environment where they exist. The missing elements in Africa’s shelter equation have been an enabling environment and a supporting legal framework. Major progress in this area has been hampered by overly-restrictive legal frameworks and inappropriate building codes and regulations which fail to consider the interests and capacities of the poor. The bulk of investment in shelter for the poor has come from the poor themselves, and most shelter production takes place outside the realm of local and national government planning systems. Governments need to recognise the investments of the poor and the informal sector as the mainstay of their economies, rather than regarding them as problems and eye-soures. They should concentrate on encouraging communities to produce their own shelter.


Africa’s economic and social crisis raises questions about the viability of on-going sectoral policies and institutional governance. The conclusion to be drawn is that some states in Africa are not well equipped to take a lead role in development. Governance has often been highly centralized, neglecting the needs, aspirations and contributions of communities in human settlements investment. Limited resources have been directed towards human settlements development resulting in, inter alia, grossly inadequate provision of infrastructure, and hence apathy, disillusionment and a lack of local-level participation in, and enthusiasm for, government-sponsored projects and programmes. The general perception of governments’ approach towards development is one of patronage and paternalism.

More attention is needed from African governments to encourage local-level participation in human settlements development and the creation of an environment conducive to private, formal, and informal sector investments. Governments should spearhead the informal sector development process through capacity building, human resource development, institutional development and resource mobilization.

Participation requires the empowerment of people through devolution of power from the centre to community level. In order for the people to use this power effectively, the process must be accompanied by institutional capacity building at the local level. Central government functions should be made accessible through the systematic deconcentration of central government authority. Such deconcentration must be accompanied by effective delegation of authority. This, in turn, implies a system of accountability and greater transparency in bottom-up and top-down decision making and resource allocation. These steps will help in improving current practices regarding questions of resource distribution and access and political rights and processes, and help bridge the gap between the state and civil society.

Solutions to the current problems in Africa must address social and political issues as well as economic and technical ones. It is not possible to eradicate poverty and inequality, and preserve the environment, without devolving power to marginalized people. Participation and empowerment at the local level are a sine qua non to sustainable development. Without a broad-based participatory environment, all measures adopted by local authorities, national governments and donors will be inadequate in the long run.


Environmental problems in African human settlements are experienced daily, and the poor are those who suffer the most. Uncollected refuse, inadequate disposal of solid and liquid wastes and the resulting pollution of rivers, beaches and aquifers, and blocked drainage channels causing flooding and loss of property attest to Africa’s environmental crisis.

A potable-water supply is equally deficient in the water-rich and water-poor areas of Africa, due to lack of appropriate infrastructure and misuse of water sources. The poor in shanty towns often pay 5 to 10 times more for water than those city residents connected to a piped water supply. Land development is not guided by appropriate environmental concerns. Often the poor have to build houses on unsuitable land such as steep slopes, flood-prone areas or near dangerous industrial parks. Many urban dwellers in African cities rely on fuelwood as the main source of energy, causing deforestation and soil erosion in rural areas.

African cities are highly dependent upon their surrounding natural environment for the basic resources which enable them to function. However, environmental hazards and health risks such as flooding, landslides and poor sanitation severely constrain economic growth, productivity and development.

Sustainable environmental management is vital if Africa is to resume a steady path of development and human settlements management. Similarly, what Africa can expect to benefit from Habitat II, depends largely on the types of policies the governments are prepared to put in place as well as on the resources they are prepared to commit. These might include: the institutionalization of preventive policies and programmes; the appropriate valuation and sustainable use of natural resources such as land, forests and water; the application of flexible planning methods, and processes and technologies that are responsive to the rapid change in the conditions of African cities; and the need to raise awareness and to broaden exchange and communication between the media, the general public, NGOs, governments and the business and research communities to promote public awareness.

Environmental issues often result in conflicts among different interest groups. The key to promoting sustainable human settlements development is to mobilize competing interest groups in the identification priorities of their formulation and implemention at both the local and national level. Africa’s participation in Habitat II should, therefore, focus on governments’ efforts to significantly change the deciding factors in national development strategies. Without involving those interest groups that can contribute to resolving of the environmental crisis in the design of local and national development, the crisis will continue to worsen.

Experiences from many parts of Africa confirm that ordinary people have been the principal agents in the management of natural resources and the mitigation of environmental hazards. They are the agents of change and their participation in decision-making is crucial. From the Naam Movement in Burkina Faso to community waste collection in many urban areas of Africa, grassroots organizations across Africa have taken a leading role against environmental degradation. There are thousands of similar, locally-initiated self-help experiments all across Africa. Unfortunately, they are rarely the subject of government or donor support and so have not been able to realize their full potential. Environmental issues cannot be solved by governments alone. The private sector and voluntary organisations should also be encouraged to forge a partnership to achieve sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing Africa.

Disaster preparedness

Africa continues to have more than its share of disasters, which have impaired efforts to maintain sustainable living conditions for all its people. While the magnitude of disasters vary, they are made worse by widespread poverty. Regardless of the nature of the calamity, the impact creates further development problems, particularly in the area of infrastructure. Unlike most developed countries, disasters in Africa often require a long-term perspective for recovery, and thus threaten the lives of large numbers of people. The fragility of most African economies means that the capacity of governments to respond to disaster is exceedingly low by any standards. The problem is aggravated by a lack of disaster-preparedness strategies at the national level.

Future disaster planning in the African region should take into account not only natural disasters such as drought, flooding, cyclones, etc., but also human-made ones brought about by the increasing occurrence of civil strife, with its profound ramifications and implications for human settlements planning.

There is need to explore the root causes of civil strife which eventually leads to much human misery, loss of life and loss of productivity whilst at the same time seriously delaying the achievement of better living conditions for all. This emphasises the need to bring new concepts like conflict resolution into the debate on disaster prevention and mitigation. It is therefore recommended that representatives of populations affected by calamities resulting from natural or, human-made disasters be included in the country preparatory process for Habitat II, amongst others.

In addition, governments should put relief to development continuum coordination policies and institutional frameworks at the highest levels of national development planning. Such institutional frameworks create vertical and horizontal linkages at local and international levels and ensure that these are engaged in all stages of the continuum, with particular emphasis on preventive and strategic planning and sustainable development. They also promote awareness-raising and capacity-building at all levels, especially that of local authorities.

Therefore, it is desirable that all local authorities integrate disaster-preparedness into their regular activities of planning, development and management of human settlements, and coordinate and disseminate information accordingly. National governments should propose mechanisms to enable local authorities to play a more positive role in disaster relief and empower them to mobilize resources to better position to better coordinate local action.

Delapidated houses should be reconstructed using durable materials



Activities for the preparation of Habitat II will take place at four levels: local, national, regional and global.


The preparatory process should be achieved at the city level and local authorities should play a major role in the process. Awareness of the Habitat II concept, objectives and delivery mechanisms should be developed and channelled through newspapers, radio, television and posters. Local governments, networks of associations, and national steering committees should take an active part and be encouraged to publicize the goals and objectives of Habitat II.

It is of the utmost importance that a strong, imaginative and vibrant message about Habitat II be prepared and broadcast worldwide. This message should highlight the critical issues in human settlements development, pointing out the urgency of the problem and the demonstrated capacity of the poor to help themselves if accorded the right type of support from governments and other entities. The way to implement these measures should include the following:

1. Action at the local level

(a) The establishment of a national task force to initiate and guide the process under the responsibility of municipal leaders. The preparatory process at the level of local authorities should be used in the country reports.

(b) National governments should draw up the format of the report for local authorities. This should incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data and information. It should not only be flexible, but must be understood by ordinary people.

(c) Public forums should be organized along with city consultations to allow a broader exchange of views in order to arrive at a consensus among the various participants on the substance of Habitat II.

(d) Those involved in the process, from inception to completion should include, among others: local authorities, business leaders, chambers of commerce, construction industries, contractors, civic leaders, religious leaders, women’s associations, labour unions, youth, civil rights activists, NGOs and CBOs.

(e) Dissemination of information about Habitat II should take many forms besides the local media: music, drama and dance performances, popular song, and theatre. Leading artists should be approached to promote the message of Habitat II.

2. Action at the national level

(a) A steering committee on Habitat II should be established at the highest possible level in each country to initiate and guide the preparatory process. It will require participation by all involved in human settlements development management.

(b) Preparation of country reports to be used in the regional agenda;

(c) Organization of national public forums and country consultations to be used in the country report.

(d) Involvement in the preparatory process of agencies and other ministries in addition to the ministries of works and public housing or environment so as to enhance the total dimension of human settlements and its impact on the development process.

(e) Use of national media and all communications channels.

3. Action at the regional and global levels

(a) Involvement of sub-regional and regional organizations in order to solicit the necessary support for individual countries as well as to ensure that Habitat II is reflected in their deliberations.

(b) Establishment of a common format for reporting at national and local levels.

(c) Establishment of common resources for supporting preparatory activities and documentation and sharing experiences of on-going “best practices” among governments.

(d) This should be followed by a regional conference of local authorities, professional associations, chambers of commerce, etc. to prepare the African Agenda for Action.

(e) It is strongly advised that a facilitating mechanism be set up at the regional level to ensure the proper functioning of the national steering committees. This structure will also be charged with facilitating networking and closely monitoring the progress of the preparatory process.

(f) Mobilization and support to regional and global networks. Also, establishment of links across networks to coordinate preparatory activities.

Finally, the African Expert Group notes with appreciation the role of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) in the preparation of the Habitat II Conference. The Centre is well equipped to provide the necessary depth and substance that will certainly mark this event. However, the United Nations alone cannot muster the complement of skills and resources that could make Habitat II a major world event.

Africa, the continent that stands to benefit the most from the outcome of Habitat II, can certainly assist the Conference secretariat at all stages of the preparatory process. A mechanism needs to be put in place to allow the African people, institutions, and governments to play a major role in the development and implementation of the Africa Agenda for Habitat II. We recommend that the people and ministers of Africa give the greatest priority to this event at the highest levels of government. They should immediately begin to mobilize their international lobby in order to harness resources and international public opinion worldwide in support of Habitat II.


The projections of the United Nations indicate that the urban growth rate will be highest in Africa: from 174 million in 1985 to 361 million in 2000, which will be a growth of more than 100 per cent in 15 years.

Urbanization in many countries is not accompanied by economic growth and it generates a massive burden on the job market. The high rate of urbanization also generates a huge demand for employment, housing, services and urban infrastructure.

The nature of African urbanization contributes to the degradation of the urban environment. Poverty in general, and urban poverty in particular, requires a coherent and integrated set of social, technical and economic policies. It requires all levels of government (central, local and community) to be involved in reform of the state apparatus and mechanisms to support innovations in the institutional, administrative, financial and legal framework to implement programmes of poverty reduction.

The African debt is considerable and contributes significantly to impoverishment because of the financial transfers imposed by reimbursements.

It is not possible to reduce poverty by top-down measures alone. The success of these programmes depends above all on the active participation of the poor. The role of NGOs and CBOs is fundamental and should be acknowledged as such.

Indicators on poverty in human settlements which also allow for the assessment of the efficiency of policies should reflect its many dimensions. They should consider, among others, employment, revenue, skills, access to housing and utilities, organizational capacity, the power of the community and its right and to access and justice.

African countries have not adopted a specific policy aimed at the reduction of poverty. On the contrary, the structural adjustment programmes have exacerbated the incidence of poverty in most countries.

This poverty should be seen as a symptom of insufficient production capacity. Positive action is needed to combat this by reinforcing the production capacity, particularly of the informal sector. This could be a powerful force in a large majority of African countries, and cities, and would assist urban populations in gaining access to financial and technical support within a legal framework.

The implementation of policies and strategies to reduce poverty requires:

· a precise definition of support mechanisms;

· improved targeting of potential actors;

· the determination of everyone’s roles and responsibilities to ensure the internal coherence of programmes;

· the promotion of employment. Income generation should favour the development of small-scale industries. Credit facilities should be granted by commercial banks, and the setting up of community banks should be reinforced as a priority. Efforts should be made to legitimize the informal sector;

· the reinforcement of technical capabilities and management of small-scale entrepreneurs (informal sector);

· the promotion of participatory justice, particularly at the neighbourhood and community level, which could arrest the growth of urban violence and street justice, and contribute to social cohesion.

Central and local governments need to undertake the roles of facilitators and extension agents. Financial institutions, NGOs, CBOs and the private sector should be involved in a dialogue for policy and strategy formulation and implementation in the fight against poverty in human settlements.


Housing is a key sector of the economy with a significant impact on broader economic and social goals. It must be accorded due recognition and not viewed simply as a social service. Further, access to housing should be recognized not only as a basic need but also a basic human right.

The principles of the Global Strategy for Shelter (GSS) have been adopted by many African governments, however, national strategies and programmes have not yet created the enabling environment necessary for shelter provision and production. This slow shift is attributable to a number of factors particularly an availability of long-term loanable funds, inappropriate planning and land policies, as well as the lack of recognition of the informal sector.

African governments are, therefore, urged to take urgent measures to review their shelter strategies with a view to making them relevant to prevailing situations. Such measures should include formulation of relevant policies, creation of appropriate institutions and elimination of regulations and practices that constrain shelter delivery systems and hinder access to housing for all, especially women. In particular, governments should recognize and encourage the resourcefulness of the private as well as the informal sector. In this way, significant progress is likely to be made towards the achievement of the objectives shelter for all.


The conclusions to be drawn from an examination of the African social and economic crisis is that states in Africa are not suitably equipped to take a leading role in human settlements development and, as a result most investments in human settlements have been made by the people themselves, and most recently, by the poor. Human settlements and institutional practices in Africa have been paternalistic and patronising towards the societies under their jurisdiction inhibiting rather than encouraging initiatives at the local level. This relationship has adversely affected the course of economic development.

People in Africa have demonstrated their vitality and resource fulness in their daily struggle for survival. They constitute a strong vibrant civil society. Their efforts should be encouraged and they need to be empowered by devolution of power from the centre to the local community level. In order for the people to use this effectively the devolution process must be accompanied by institutional capacity-building at the local level.

Central government functions and authority should be decentralized to become accessible at the local level. Such decentralization must be accompanied by effective delegation of authority and power to raise revenue locally.


The principal objectives of Habitat II in the area of environmental management for sustainable human settlement in Africa are to make the world recognise that:

(1) humans and wildlife are endangered species in Africa today,

(2) biodiversity in Africa means a place to live, work, and sleep for all men, women and children, and

(3) habitat is our theme over the next decade and environment is our setting.

We need to strike a new balance between habitat and the environment, compatible with the needs and priorities of the African people so that they can effectively contribute to the survival of our planet.

The key environmental management issues that should be developed in the preparation of Habitat II are listed below:

1. Institutionalization of preventive policies and programmes instead of merely measures for controlling environmental degradation;

2. Appropriate valuation and sustainable use of natural resources, such as land, forests and water;

3. The organization of the African continent into balanced ecological and cultural zones to facilitate the management of the region’s natural resources;

4. The mobilization of local resources and capacities to achieve self reliance and sustainable development;

5. The application of flexible planning methods, processes and technologies that are responsive to the rapid change in conditions in African cities;

6. The widening of the interface of exchange and communication between the media, the general public, NGOs, governments and the business and research communities to promote public awareness;

7. The mobilization of public participation in the identification of priorities and in the formulation of policies and programmes for sustainable human settlements;

8. The strengthening African cultural practices conducive to waste reduction, recycling and re-use.

9. The creation of an environment policy conducive to the development and expansion of local businesses capable of responding to the growing need for environmental services.



Africa has had more than its share of disasters such as drought, cyclones, locust infestation, over the past two decades. These, have had a catastrophic impact on economic development and have left millions of Africans destitute. In addition, civil strife now features prominently in the disaster equation. The Expert Group fully recognized the need to refocus disaster planning, taking into account strong ramifications and profound implications for human settlements environment and planning.

There will also be the need to investigate the causes of civil strife which eventually lead to much human misery, loss of life and loss of productivity. This recognition introduces the topic of conflict resolution into the relief to development continuum.

The Group recommends putting relief and development continuum policies and institutional frameworks at the highest levels in all countries. Such frameworks should have vertical and horizontal linkages at local and international levels. All actors must engage in all stages of the continuum, with particular emphasis on preventive and forward planning and sustainable development.

A successful RDC strategy requires that those affected be represented in the preparatory process for Habitat II. In addition, central governments should provide an enabling mechanism so that local authorities can play a more positive role and are empowered to mobilize resources to effectively coordinate local action.

Habitat II Preparatory Process and the Construction Sector


Adequate housing is defined in the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 as “tenurial security, adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities, all at a reasonable cost”. It must also meet basic requirements of structural stability and durability, and most importantly, affordability.

The question of what an “adequate” house is and whether governments have the resources to make housing available to all its citizens, particularly in the urban areas, is an extremely complex one. While the physical structure of the house, the infrastructure and facilities around it are important issues, they are largely dependent on whether low-cost building materials are available, whether skills and competence in the construction techniques are in place and whether policies and regulations favour the expansion and strengthening of the indigenous construction sector; all of which, in turn, depend on whether governments can afford to fulfil these prerequisites and make these conditions possible.

Since its inception, UNCHS (Habitat) has been actively involved in promoting the development of building materials and construction sectors to meet the requirements of housing delivery. This process began with the implementation of the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements in 1976, followed by the proclamation of 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless and the adoption of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988.

The Habitat II Conference and its preparatory process provide yet another important opportunity to facilitate improvements in the performance of the building materials and construction sectors for delivery of adequate housing to millions of homeless and marginalized groups who live in utmost misery in terms of housing and related amenities.

This paper attempts to highlight the main constraints to stimulating construction sector activities and describes how the Habitat II process can contribute to alleviating the current problems of the sector in many developing countries, particularly, in the countries of the African region.


Considering the importance of the construction sector in human settlements development, in general, and adequate housing delivery, in particular, and bearing in mind the two central themes of the Habitat II Conference which are:

(a) Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world; and
(b) Adequate shelter for all

It leaves no doubt that the Habitat II process will lead to, among others, reaffirming the need for improved construction sector activities in order to meet the requirements of adequate housing and infrastructure delivery.

Given the fact that more people live in inadequate housing and have little or no access to basic infrastructure than was the case 20 years ago, Habitat II will identify the reasons why despite the great promise which the first Habitat Conference (Vancouver, 1976) appeared to hold then for global housing development, not enough progress has been made since. It will use new tools of analysis, and new approaches to examine trends in economic, social, institutional, policy and technological development; review the prevailing shortcomings; and suggest new areas of action to increase the rate of housing delivery by strengthened construction sector activities.

Habitat II will be a forum where national governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, professionals and entrepreneurs and all other actors involved in housing delivery will meet to, among other things, evaluate the present situation of the construction sector, assess its setbacks and look to its future, with its tremendous potential for an improved housing delivery and a better quality of life.

Habitat II will be a unique opportunity for international collaboration in meeting the deepening crisis facing the construction sector. It will provide an opportunity to bring together national and international resources, governmental and non-governmental expertise to develop a global approach through its free flow of ideas and learning from “best practices”. The preparatory process should, therefore culminate in an event capable of merging the views and commitments from all countries into one goal, one commitment and one global action programme.

The Global Strategy for Shelter to the year 2000 encourages the application of “enabling policies” whereby national governments are encouraged to establish the appropriate legislative, institutional and financial frameworks that will enable the formal and informal construction sectors, non-governmental organizations, communities and individuals to contribute most effectively towards housing construction. However, such policies cannot be implemented unless adequate inputs required by the construction sector are in place.

The existence of a favourable environment policy coupled with technological growth are crucial factors for economically, environmentally and socially sustainable housing development. Habitat II, while encouraging policy makers and professionals, will call on them and the international community to draw up a Global Plan of Action and make commitments to provide resources and embark on new partnerships with other actors to strengthen their capacities in the construction sector.

The second theme of Habitat II “Adequate Shelter for All” is, in fact, the ultimate objective of the Global Strategy for Shelter. The Habitat II preparatory process and the Conference itself will conduct a mid-term review of the implementation of the Global Strategy for Shelter, and will make recommendations for attaining this objective by the targeted date.

Finally, Habitat II will address issues related to the promotion of sustainable construction industry activities - an area of expressed concern in Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The construction industry, while contributing considerably in overall socio-economic development, fixed capital formation and employment generation in every country, is one of the largest exploiters of natural resources, an irreversible transformer of the natural environment and a significant polluter of the atmosphere. The need therefore to introduce more sustainable construction practices with due attention to preserving natural resources and the eco-system in general is attracting great attention by policy makers and professionals in the overall context of sustainable human settlements development particularly in urban areas.


The following parts of this paper provide a brief overview of the prevailing key problems and short-comings militating against the development of the construction sector. They also propose a set of measures which could contribute to the improvement of the performance of the sector in most countries of the African region. The proposed measures outlined in sections IV and V are expected to serve as guiding principles for country-level preparations and reporting for Habitat II in the construction sector. However, these are by no means exhaustive and may not be common to all countries. They could therefore be used as a basis for objectively assessing, the current status of the construction sector in every country, and could help in identifying: (i) key areas of concern for consideration; and (ii) policies and actions required to alleviate the shortcomings.

Problems of, and opportunities for, the development of the indigenous construction industry

A summary statement

The construction industry makes a significant contribution to the socio-economic development process in most countries. The sector also employs, a large proportion of the labour force and in that way offers income-earning opportunities. The construction industry is an important contributor to capital formation and the high rate of activities in the sector are major indicators of a healthy economy. Indirectly, the sector stimulates other industrial sectors through economic multiplier effects and makes a significant contribution in terms of conserving, and sometimes generating, foreign exchange.

Nevertheless, there are a number of problems which tend to confront the sector and make efforts at developing an indigenous construction industry very difficult and complex. The main one is that the basic inputs required for the supply of construction outputs are often not adequately developed, even though abundant indigenous resources may exist. Instead, there tends to be a high dependence on imported resources, often paid for with scarce foreign exchange.

The underlying problems of the construction sector can be classified into the following main groups:

(a) The sector is not viewed and planned in a holistic manner, but rather, operates with fragmented, unrelated and often conflicting components. The result is wastage of resources, duplication, inefficiency and inability to plan for total development.

(b) There are large amounts of deficiencies in the specific inputs required for the supply of construction outputs. For example, key building materials are scarce and expensive; access to financial resources are limited; equipment and tools are not easily available; skilled labour is still scarce.

(c) The demand characteristics of the sector are unfavourable. Governments are usually the main clients of the majority of construction industry outputs. In the private sector, however, the bulk of the population is low-income or has no income and is not an effective market for the construction of housing and infrastructure.

(d) Poor technological capacity of the industry, particularly of its small-scale sector has directly contributed to low productivity of the construction sector. Lack of access by small entrepreneurs to information on new and appropriate technologies; a general dearth of technology suppliers; difficulties in technology transfer mechanisms; and inadequate industrial extension support services to the sector are major problems affecting the development of the construction sector.

However, despite the numerous deficiencies in the sector, opportunities for strengthening the sector exist in the following areas:

(a) Improvement in building materials supply and reduction of their cost;

(b) Human resources development;

(c) Use of appropriate and innovative technologies;

(d) Promotion of public/private partnership;

(e) Development of the small-scale construction sector;

(f) Attracting private sector investment;

(g) Promoting the use of renewable energy sources;

(h) Strengthening research efforts and translating research findings into industrial production;

(i) Promoting flow of information;

(j) Promoting adoption of standards and specifications for low-cost building materials production;

(k) Modifying (if required) building regulations and bye-laws;

(l) Facilitating easy access to tools and equipment;

(m) Creating favourable financing mechanisms;

(n) Promoting transfer and adaptation of technology and regional co-operation.


A. Low-cost building materials

Constraints summary

Constraints affecting the wide-scale production and use of low-cost building materials are many and they may differ from country to country. The basic constraints facing the sector may be broadly categorised as those related to: (a) low productivity; (b) lack of appropriate technologies and know-how; (c) energy related issues; and (d) lack of standards and specifications.

Measures for improvement

(a) Production improvement

Low productivity in the building materials sector has been a major obstacle to improving the performance of housing sector in most African countries. Measures to improve the productivity should give consideration to the following:

(i) Improving and regularizing the supply of raw materials; arranging and assisting small enterprises to conduct feasibility studies on raw material deposits, scale of production, quality control procedures and in marketing and distribution;

(ii) Promoting and assisting small-scale building materials sector to improve their productivity by modernization and upgradating processes;

(iii) Providing information on new and appropriate technologies to the small-scale construction sector and facilitating the transfer and adaptation of technologies;

(iv) Arranging for sufficient supplies of tools and equipment and ensuring the availability of spare parts at all times;

(v) Ensuring consistent supplies of energy and other utilities required for the plants.

(b) Appropriate and innovative technologies and know-how

One of the important reasons for the shortage and high cost of basic building materials in most African countries is the lack of technological know-how for producing alternatives to substitute costly materials such as cement, fired clay bricks. asbestos or steel corrugated roofing sheets, etc. Efforts to adopt new technologies and materials should focus on:

(i) Making arrangements to popularize new technologies and materials by adopting standards and specifications for the production and use of these materials;

(ii) Making efforts to execute pilot housing projects using innovative materials such as: stabilized soil blocks, fibre concrete roofing tiles and alternative cementitious materials to demonstrate their advantages viz-a-viz the conventional and relatively expensive materials;

(iii) Fostering research and development activities on new materials and technologies and, more importantly, facilitating translation of research results into actual field production;

(iv) Creating a favourable policy and regulatory environment for the use of innovative materials by modifying and/or reformulating building regulations to incorporate permission of the use of these materials in low-cost housing construction;

(v) Establishing a mechanism for the exchange of information on technological requirements viz-a-viz available technologies;

(vi) Fostering regional, inter-regional and international co-operation for the transfer of technology and encouraging joint ventures and licensing arrangements;

(vii) Strengthening community-based organizations and establishing new building centres for the provision of advisory and extension services to small-scale entrepreneurs.

(c) Energy-efficiency

Many basic building materials such as cement, bricks, lime, etc. have high energy content. In general, about 80 to 90 per cent of the energy used in housing construction is for the production and transportation of building materials, and only 10 to 20 per cent of energy-use takes place in the on-site construction process. Rising energy costs, therefore, is one of the principal factors causing building material prices to rise. Measures to improve energy efficiency should include:

(i) Creation of initiatives for technical innovation directed towards greater energy-efficiency and fuel substitution;

(ii) Adoption of energy-efficient technologies and materials and enforcing policies and regulations for energy saving;

(iii) Encouraging the use of alternative fuels such as agricultural wastes and low-grade oils;

(iv) Careful study of all types of kiln processes to monitor energy consumption and identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency;

(v) Energy auditing of all production processes to identify end-use patterns;

(vi) Use of solar energy or waste kiln-heat in low-temperature operations.

(d) Standards and specifications

Traditional building materials, such as soil, lime and timber have long been in use in most African countries without any standards or specifications regarding their production or use in construction. If standards, specifications and testing procedures are adopted on a wide scale, they are likely to improve the acceptability of such materials and thereby reduce dependency on conventional and import-based substitutes. When formulating a policy for the adoption of standards and specifications, national governments need to include to the following actions:

(i) Supporting studies and research on standards and specifications for an identified range of indigenous building materials;

(ii) Providing resources, especially from bilateral and international sources, for the supply of testing equipment and technical information;

(iii) Establishing mechanisms for the dissemination and enforcement of adopted standards to local builders, contractors and building materials producers;

(iv) Setting up extension services and demonstration projects as a basis for the application of standards and specifications in the traditional and small-scale construction sectors;

(v) Introducing legislative support for consumer rights in the use of indigenous building materials.

B. Human resources

Constraints summary

Labour constitutes the second largest component of resources required by the construction industry after building materials. The ordinary workforce is abundant in most African countries, but skilled and professional labour in the construction sector is scarce. One of the causes of the lack of skilled labour in the sector is the inadequate scale and scope of the training provided to them. Existing conventional training institutions have neither adequate capacity to train the required number of unskilled workers, nor are their training programmes comprehensive enough for the range of activities that take place in the construction industry.

Measures for improvement

(a) Diversifying and promoting the scope of training

The educational background of the bulk of the labour force engaged in the construction sector are such that conventional educational methods, involving school attendance, lectures etc. are not often effective. In order for training to have an impact on the development of the indigenous construction sector, consideration should be given to the following:

(i) Assessing the type of participants who require training - for example, contractors, building materials producers, managerial staff, etc. and identifying those existing training institutions that have the potential to undertake new methods of training;

(ii) Preparing comprehensive training activities based on the priority requirements of the construction sector;

(iii) Promoting on-the-job training programmes, using demonstration projects and field extension trainers;

(iv) Identifying appropriate target groups, such as master craftsmen, to undertake practical training and spread acquired techniques through apprenticeship systems and using extension service approach;

(v) Promoting support for teaching aids, such as audio-visual kits and illustrated manuals, data and fact sheets and mobilizing resources for practical training workshops and seminars for both private and public sectors.

(b) Strengthening existing training institutions

The existing training institutions often have considerable limitations mainly because of shortages of resources and skilled trainers. National governments could focus on the following:

(i) Assessing existing facilities which are accessible to training institutions and identifying requirements for national and international assistance;

(ii) Providing support in terms of material inputs from national and international resources, including equipment, information and skilled trainers;

(iii) Training of trainers on a continuous basis to acquaint them with the latest developments in construction techniques and management;

(iv) Reviewing curricula of training programmes in order to make them consistent with the requirements of the indigenous construction sector.

(c) Improving the productivity of the workforce and safety measures

In some countries, the low level of productivity of the construction labour force has led to a preference for imported manpower, machinery and equipment. An increase in productivity would help to reduce dependence on imports and thereby lead to a favourable impact on the final cost of construction. Attention should be focused on the following:

(i) Providing financial bonuses and other benefits to public-sector construction workers based on productivity;

(ii) Disseminating information to construction workers on safety rules and safety procedures, especially on high-risk construction projects;

(iii) Providing incentives to construction firms which implement measures to protect workers against on-site hazards and risks and enforcing safety regulations;

(iv) Reducing barriers to the purchase of safety equipment and other basic tools which have an impact on productivity of construction manpower.

(e) Improving managerial capabilities of small contractors

Contractors are vital for the execution of projects and play a central role as co-ordinator of construction activities and mobilizer of resources for a desired construction output. Indigenous contractors in most developing countries experience difficulties in management and execution of construction projects. Approaches to minimize deficiencies of the contractors should include the following:

(i) Strengthening training agencies and identifying the level of managerial training required by various classes of contractors, and preparing manuals to guide the training programmes;

(ii) Using government-sponsored projects as a basis for demonstrating practical managerial procedures;

C. Plant, equipment and tools

Constraints summary

Plant, equipment and tools constitute a smaller proportion of the total cost of a construction output than either building materials or labour. Despite the fact that the nature of certain construction activities tends to make the contributions of plant, equipment and tools indispensable to the construction industry, one problem related to the use of these components in most African countries, is that they are often imported with scarce foreign exchange. The result is often shortages in supply, and some of the items imported turn out to be inappropriate to the indigenous construction sector.

Measures for improvement

(a) Establishing a comprehensive programme for equipment and machinery pools

A machinery-pool programme is capable of reducing foreign exchange spending on the importation of machinery and equipment. Owing to the cyclical nature of the construction activity and the frequent interruptions experienced in most countries, machinery-pools can help minimize the problem of idle capacity thereby achieving rationalization and efficiency in total utilization of the items. National governments will benefit from a policy based on this concept, and, in particular, attention should be given to the following:

(i) Ensuring equitable distribution of machinery and equipment through established pools to conform with the geographical distribution of construction activity;

(ii) Identifying priority items to be included in the machinery pool, giving coverage to a wide range of activities;

(iii) Motivating and encouraging the establishment of private-sector machinery pools by providing, incentives in the form of spare parts and information dissemination;

(b) Promoting programmes for repair, maintenance and spare parts supply

A comprehensive support mechanism using domestic skilled labour for the repair and maintenance of imported and domestic machinery and equipment can help minimize wastage and inefficiency of those items and thus contribute to substantial savings in foreign exchange. Ensuring the availability of spare parts for machinery and equipment, preferably through domestic production, can achieve similar benefits. National governments could explore a policy emphasizing the following:

(i) Promoting demonstration projects, using ongoing construction programmes, to train technicians in the repair and maintenance of machinery and equipment;

(ii) Mobilizing international assistance for training the domestic workforce in operation, maintenance and repair and encouraging the establishment of domestic workshops for the production of basic spare parts;

(iii) Assessing requirements of basic spare parts and preparing programmes of importation or production to satisfy demand.

(c) Local capacity-building in the manufacture of equipment and tools

The traditional and modern metal factories and workshops in most African countries can produce basic tools for the construction sector. Even though that has only been done on a small scale and has not had a great impact, the potential can be developed to the extent that considerable savings could be gained through reduction in imports and generation of employment and incomes. Governments should give due regard to the following:

(i) Providing support to equipment and tool manufacturers, through training of skilled labour, information dissemination, guarantee of imported critical inputs and other fiscal incentives;

(ii) Formulating standards and specifications to regulate the quality of production and providing support for research activities on cost reduction and improved production techniques;

(iii) Promoting the export of locally-produced machinery and tools;

(d) Rationalizing capacity of existing plants

In most African countries, large-scale plants such as cement, brick, lime, and tile manufacturing plants operate at capacities which are inefficient. National governments can achieve several benefits if attention is given to rationalizing the capacities of existing plants rather than installing new plants. Some of the benefits of such an approach include a reduction in cost of infrastructural services, economies in the use of scarce energy resources, of scarce skilled labour and reductions in the cost of management and general operations. National governments need to give consideration to a policy of that nature, with the following in mind:

(i) Making an assessment of capacity utilization of existing large-scale plants with a view to establishing the feasibility of increasing the capacity of operation;

(ii) Establishing a system for continuous evaluation and monitoring of heavy plant and machinery usage;

(iii) Providing preferential support for projects involving rationalization of capacities of existing plants, through supply of spare parts, dissemination of information and training of labour to repair, maintain and operate plants.

D. Financing the construction sector

Constraints summary

The construction industry is dependent on finance for acquiring various inputs required. Owing to the high-risk nature of major construction projects, new investors require special financial arrangements as incentives for their contribution to the sector. Clients of the construction industry both in public and in private sectors, also require large sums of funding to meet their demand for construction activities. In most African countries, existing financial institutions do not fulfil the requirements for financial resources which are required for critical inputs such as machinery, building materials and working capital. Similarly, funds from government sources for development projects are often limited and are shared by several other economy sectors.

Measures for improvement

(a) Strengthening the capabilities of national financial institutions

Existing financial institutions can contribute to the development of the construction sector by making their terms for loans favourable to a wide range of participants in the sector. By providing support for investments in the indigenous construction sector, existing financial institutions are likely to benefit from the contributions which the sector makes to the national economy - in particular, the ability to stimulate growth in other sectors of the economy through multiplier effects. Attention should be focused on policies of that nature giving consideration to issues such as:

(i) Providing governmental financial contributions in the form of special funds to supplement the seed capital of banks;

(ii) Strengthening legislative instruments in order to offset risks of default and minimizing the demand for guarantees.

(iii) Providing incentives to commercial banks in order to enable them to invest directly in the construction sector;

(b) Promoting non-conventional financing mechanisms

Non-conventional methods of generating funds, such as community-based donations and individual contributions are capable of supporting viable construction projects, if organized in a comprehensive manner. This is one method of reducing the heavy burden of financing construction projects by governments. This approach to generating funds seems appropriate among rural and urban informal-sectors. The following guidelines need to be considered when formulating a policy in that direction:

(i) Providing institutional support to coordinate programmes related to non-conventional financing mechanisms and promoting non-conventional financial systems on a wide scale;

(ii) Identifying and executing projects which are capable of attracting maximum participation;

(iii) Exploring non-conventional systems based on experiences in other countries-”best practices”.

(c) Public/private partnership for funding public construction projects

Financial resources are, sometimes, more readily available in the private sector than in the public sector. Yet, financing public construction projects are borne by public sources of finance. However, private-sector investment can be attracted, with suitable interest payments. An example of this is the collection of tolls on highway projects as a means of paying back the investment. When formulating such a policy, national governments should consider the following guidelines:

(i) Identifying projects for private-sector participation with guarantees of early periods of repayment, insurance against risks and favourable interest rates;

(ii) Initiating feasibility studies on investment in public construction projects by both foreign and domestic private investors;

(iii) Providing fiscal incentives, such as tax subsidies to investors.

(d) Promoting international ventures

The setting up of financial institutions geared to the needs of the construction industry, on a bilateral or multilateral basis, can help to reduce the constraints in the construction process caused by the shortage of foreign exchange to purchase critical inputs. In most African countries, construction projects that require heavy foreign exchange components such as dams and irrigation projects, can be implemented through that kind of collaboration. If institutions are organized as commercial ventures, there is the possibility that foreign exchange earnings can be generated through interest and re-investments. National governments should explore the benefits of such an arrangement by:

(i) Initiating studies on the feasibility of such an approach and identifying other participating governments for negotiations;

(ii) Mobilizing international assistance through investments as share-holders and direct contributions of financial aid, manpower assistance, training of personnel, information flow and evaluation of performance;

(iii)Identifying priority construction projects and promoting investment programmes as a means of generating profit and re-investing profits.


A. Appropriate regulatory mechanisms

Constraints summary

Regulatory procedures applied in most African countries are not comprehensive and, often, ignore activities that are vital to the satisfactory performance of the construction sector. A fundamental problem is that most regulations inherited from other countries are inappropriate or ineffective. Although there has been concern for revising or reformulating codes and regulations, the limited resources available to most developing countries, notably skilled professionals and appropriate methodologies have hampered attempts to improve the situation.

Measures for improvement

(a) Reformulation of existing codes and regulations

In most developing countries, building codes and regulations can be adapted to the indigenous construction sector through reformulation or revisions. The following actions may be of assistance:

(i) Streamlining legislative procedures required for the reformulation or revision of building codes and regulations, in order to reduce bureaucratic constraints and improve the capabilities of responsible agencies;

(ii) Providing institutional arrangements to enforce new codes and regulations, monitoring the performance of codes and devising guidelines for periodic revisions to ensure their suitability.

(b) Establishing or strengthening institutions responsible for regulatory procedures

Building codes and regulations can fulfil their objectives if adequate institutional arrangements are made. Appropriate construction techniques can be promoted through demonstration programmes and the dissemination of information on safety, comfort and durability of indigenous construction outputs. Measures to establish new institutions or to strengthen existing ones should be based on the following guidelines:

(i) Assessing areas which require governmental intervention in relation to the capacities of existing regulatory institutions and the need for establishing new ones;

(ii) Providing training opportunities for new staff and improving the skills of existing ones;

(iii) Strengthening the legislative backing of the regulatory institutions in order to cover a comprehensive range of activities and application of enforcement procedures.

(c) Adopting appropriate contracting, tendering and registration procedures

The current constraints for tendering, awarding contracts and registering contractors often, hamper development of the indigenous construction sector in many countries. Appropriate procedures can be effective for development of the capabilities of indigenous contractors, if emphasis could be placed on issues such as:

(i) Providing support for the revision of existing contracts and tendering procedures in order to reduce dependency on inappropriate resource inputs;

(ii) Supporting measures to revise inappropriate procedures for the registration of small contractors, in order to promote local capacities;

(iii) Establishing a mechanism for evaluating the performance of small contractors, based on participation by associations of private-sector contractors.

B. Information dissemination

Constraints summary

One of the main reasons for underdevelopment of the construction sector in most African countries is that there is hardly any formal mechanism for collecting, processing and disseminating information. The scale of information dissemination, if it has to have any meaningful impact, must cover a wide range of issues such as innovations in the building materials sector, the transfer of technology, human resource development and research activities. However, it is usually beyond the capability of most governments to mobilize the resources required for such a scale of information dissemination, specially with regard to the inputs that are required in the construction sector.

Measures for improvement

(a) Strengthening national capabilities for collecting and disseminating information

The stock of useful experiences, especially those concerning domestic innovations in the construction industry, can contribute to the development of the sector if measures are taken to disseminate the information effectively. One advantage of using domestic sources of information is that it is likely to be widely acceptable and may require less effort to process than information from foreign sources. The following guidelines will be helpful in formulating a policy for the purpose:

(i) Identifying a focal agency or institution to monitor national efforts in collecting and disseminating relevant information from field projects as well as from academic and research institutions;

(ii) Mobilizing resources for training local staff in skills related to collection and dissemination of information;

(iii) Providing financial and institutional support for collecting, processing and disseminating information.

(b) Promoting flow of information among countries

Efforts made by African countries in the field of information dissemination for the development of the indigenous construction sector can provide a basis for the establishment of networks for the exchange of information between countries. Information materials and dissemination techniques are likely to be easily adaptable from one developing country to another. The following actions can help in increasing the intercountry flow of information.

(i) Establishing information centres or networks on the construction industry;

(ii) Designating national focal agencies for maintaining contacts with the networks as well as storing, processing and distributing information material;

(iii) Setting up mechanisms for supplying information from local sources in exchange for information from external sources;

(iv) Carrying out projects on information dissemination and strengthening bilateral or multilateral cooperation.

(c) Information flow from developed countries and international agencies

The construction industry in African countries is still dependent on resource inputs from developed countries, especially those inputs for which indigenous substitutes have not yet been developed. Several international agencies have been making efforts to develop the indigenous construction sector in developing countries, but those efforts can have the desired impact only if the findings are properly disseminated within the developing countries. Actions needed include:

(i) Establishing an institutional arrangement for the collection, review and distribution of information from developed countries and international agencies;

(ii) Encouraging participation of the private construction sector in an information network with international agencies;

(iii) Assessing the need for specific information and mobilizing assistance from international sources;

(iv) Organizing and participating in international meetings, conferences and exhibitions.

(d) Audio-visual and other modern equipment for information dissemination

Those involved in construction activities, such as ordinary builders suppliers, small contractors and clients often do not possess the educational background required for the easy understanding of a subject as complex and technical as the construction industry. The use of audio-visual techniques and modern information aids can help to increase their understanding. Policies on this subject should give attention to the following:

(i) Assessing needs for basic audio-visual and related equipment and identifying sources for external assistance;

(ii) Establishing a system to monitor the use, distribution and maintenance of such equipment;

(iii) Mobilizing resources, including domestic funding and international cooperation for the supply of such equipment and machinery.

C. Research and demonstration

Constraints summary

In several African countries, research efforts have not led to the wide-scale adoption of findings, so that they have had little impact on the development of the indigenous construction sector. Research activities have tended to focus on outputs which are of academic interest rather than on practical results. In addition, research programmes usually fail to cover the comprehensive range of activities which characterize the construction sector. One of the reasons for those problems is that the resources available for research activities are in adequate.

Measures for improvement

(a) Adoption of research findings

Research efforts can be made effective if findings of research projects are adopted on a large scale. Efforts to promote the adoption of research findings can be done, for example, through involvement of the public and private sectors. Policy formulation in this field should focus on the following:

(i) Strengthening capacities of research institutions to enable them expand field and extension services programmes;

(ii) Providing fiscal incentives to entrepreneurs in the private sector who undertake production ventures based on research findings;

(iii) Mobilizing resources to enable research institutes to increase the scale of their demonstration projects;

(iv) Encouraging joint ventures between research institutes and the private sector in the commercial production of innovative building materials which are based on research findings;

(b) Strengthening of or establishing new research institutions

The capabilities of some African countries in research activities are such that very little impact is made on the development of the construction sector. Policies need to be implemented to strengthen or establish more effective research units so as to derive the benefits of the contributions which can be made by research efforts in the development of the construction sector. The following will be useful in formulating a policy in that field:

(i) Providing adequate support for supply of basic research equipment, tools and technical literature;

(ii) Mobilizing resources including international assistance, for training the indigenous skilled and professional staff and arranging fellowships as well as joint research activities;

(iii) Promoting bilateral and international cooperation in support of research activities.

(c) Mobilizing private sector resources for research activities

Financial contributions from the private sector, if effectively mobilized, can help reduce the problems of research activities. The involvement of the private sector in research activities can also facilitate the process of wide-scale adoption of research findings. National governments will benefit from such a policy, giving due attention to the following:

(i) Enforcing levies and other mandatory contributions based on profit margins of private-sector establishments;

(ii) Providing incentives, such as tax concessions and access to loans, for establishments that support or directly undertake research activities;

(iii) Encouraging the integration of research programmes or research units in relevant private-sector agencies in the construction industry;

(d) Establishing a network of international cooperation

International cooperation is important in enhancing the research activities in most developing countries. Unfortunately, some of the research activities being undertaken in developing countries lead to duplication of efforts and wastage of scarce resources. Moreover, advantage is not taken of the complementary nature of some activities. A policy on international cooperation with regard to research activities will involve:

(i) Identifying cooperating agencies and establishing a mechanism for exchange of relevant information on research findings;

(ii) Initiating projects to be executed through inter-agency or multi-agency cooperation;

(iii) Streamlining national research programmes in harmony with cooperating agencies;

(iv) Promoting exchange of staff to participate in relevant projects of mutual benefit.

Semi-machine fed brick-making for improved output

Technology profile No. 1: Blended cements*

* Submitted by the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, India.

Due to rising fuel prices, energy shortages and fast depleting natural resources, the manufacture of blended cements using materials with latent hydraulicity and intrinsic energy value offers good scope for increasing cement output with minimum inputs.

The Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) has carried out extensive Research and Development work over the past three decades on the production of blended cements using industrial wastes such as blast furnace slags, fly ashes, by-product gypsum, lime sludges etc. which are available in India. Over 60 per cent of the total cement produced at present in the country, consists of blended cements such as Portland pozzolana cement (PPC), Portland slag cement (PSC), super sulphated cement (SSC), pozzolana mixtures and masonry cement.

Blended cements are ordinary Portland cement (OPC) with which pozzolanic materials such as calcined clays, shales or fly-ash are blended by intergrinding with a Portland cement clinker and gypsum. A thorough mix is obtained by intergrinding, but, except for this, the same effects can be obtained by adding the pozzolana separately subsequent to grinding. The pozzolana content in PPC can range from 10 to 25 per cent by weight. PPC is recommended for use in place of ordinary Portland cement (OPC) in all types of construction works particularly in low rise and low-cost housing construction. It is common experience that as compared to ordinary Portland cement (OPC), the PPC has a longer setting time and slower rate of strength development. It has also been observed that to obtain a similar grade of concrete, the quantity of PPC required is more than that of OPC. To overcome these deficiencies in the use of PPC vis-a-vis OPC, the use of 0.75 per cent by weight of admixture R(Na2SO4 + Na2CO3) was found effective in enhancing the rate of strength development in PPC containing 15 per cent fly-ash or 20 per cent calcined clay in the production of precast concrete building units.

Portland slag cement (PSC) is made by intergrinding Portland cement clinker, granulated blast furnace slag and gypsum, the proportion of slag not exceeding 65 per cent by weight of the mixture. Hydrated lime released from the hydration of Portland cement combines with the granulated slag and acts as starter. However, the further hydration of the slag is direct and does not depend on the combination with lime. PSC is rather similar to OPC requirements for fineness, setting time, soundness and strength. But in actual practice, the fineness of PSC is kept higher. Work done at CBRI shows that PSC can be successfully produced using high manganese slags (MnO up to 6.75 percent) and Portland cement clinker in the proportion of 50:50 with four per cent gypsum by weight without exhibiting unsoundness.

Super sulphated cement (SSC) is a sulphate-resisting hydraulic cement produced by intergrinding or thoroughly blending a mixture of ground granulated slag (80-85 per cent) gypsum anhydrite (10-15 per cent) with a small quantity of cement clinker or Portland cement (2.5 per cent) which act as activators. Work done at CBRI has shown that SSC can be produced using 70 per cent slag, 20 per cent phosphogypsum anhydrate and 10 per cent by weight cement clinker. For producing one ton of SSC, it has been estimated that heat consumption has to be 900 MJ against 5860 and 3350 MJ for the Portland cement clinker produced by wet and dry processes respectively.

It has also been observed that the blended cements PPC and PSC can be used wherever OPC is usable under normal conditions. These cements produce less heat of hydration and offer greater resistance to sulphate attack than OPC. However, under marine and highly industrial environments, extra measures such as increase in cement content and/or increase of the cover thickness of reinforcement bars are suggested to overcome enhanced susceptibility to corrosion of steel reinforcement. SSC possesses greater resistance to aggressive conditions and is recommended for use in marine works, concrete construction in sulphate bearing soils, concrete sewers carrying industrial effluents and in conditions involving exposure to high concentration of sulphates and weak solutions of mineral acids (PH value down to 3.5). PSC and SSC cements, also possess good sulphate resistance and can be used in construction in situations where sulphate attack is likely. Lime pozzolana mixtures and masonry cement have been found suitable for use in place of ordinary Portland cement, in masonry mortars and plasters for simple construction works.

Technology profile No. 2: Phosphogypsum as building material**

** Developed by the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, India

Phosphogypsum is produced as a by-product in the manufacture of phosphoric acid industry by the interaction of ground phosphate rock with sulphuric acid. Approximately 3.7 million tons per annum are generated from twelve phosphoric acid fertilizer plants in India. Phosphogypsum contains impurities of P2O5, F, alkali and organic matter which adversely affect the setting and strength development of plasters/cements produced from it. These impurities exist in phosphogypsum as water-soluble, lattice bound and insoluble forms. P2O5, F and organic matter are generally found in the range of 0.40 to 1.5 per cent, 0.44 to 1.5 per cent and 0.11 to 0.60 per cent respectively. For effective utilization of phosphogypsum, it is essential to develop processes for reducing these impurities or to make them innocuous to enable proper and effective utilization of phosphogypsum in building materials.

Various methods ranging from washing, thermal to chemical treatments were evolved at CBRI to reduce/inactivate the impurities. Wet sieving of phosphogypsum through 300 micron IS sieve helps in removing the major part of impurities through the rejection of coarse particles in phosphogypsum.

The purified phosphogypsum has been utilized in the production of calcined gypsum such as hemihydrates which have a compressive strength of 8.1 to 13.1 N/mm2 or anhydrate plasters which have a compressive strength of 30.0 to 33.3 N/mm2.

These hydrates have been used for the production of:

(i) Fibrous plaster boards which have the following characteristics:

1000-1100 kg/m3
specific thermic value:
K = 0.14 - 0.17 cal/m/h/°c

(ii) Building blocks with the following characteristics:

900 - 950 kg/m3
Compressive strength:
2.5 - 3.5 N/mm2

(iii) Slotted tiles which have the following characteristics:

425 - 490 kg/m3

(iv) Super sulphated cement, and

(v) High strength alpha-plaster which has a compressive strength of 2.5-35.0 N/mm2 for use in false ceilings, non-load bearing partition walls, masonry and plastering works, etc.

Moreover, CBRI has recently succeeded in developing a durable and water-resistant gypsum binder using calcined phosphogypsum and other additives. Having a compressive strength of 20-30 N/mm2 (at 28 days) and a water-absorption capacity of 5.5-10.5 per cent, this material could be used in masonry work, block production, fibre reinforced boards and external and internal plastering.

Figures 1, 2 and 3 show three different types of building materials in which phosphogypsum has been used as basic raw material.

Figure 1. Fibrous gypsum plaster board

Figure. 2. Gypsum blocks

Figure 3. Slotted gypsum tiles

Technology profile No. 3: Utilization of fly ash in the production of building materials***

*** Submitted by the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, India

About 25 million tons of fly ash is produced per annum at 60 thermal power stations in India, at present. Since early 1960’s CBRI has been carrying out R and D work on characteristics of Indian fly ashes and their utilization in building industry.

The results of physical and chemical tests, such as X-ray, DTA and microscopic examination have shown that Indian fly ashes fall within the range of the average values for fly ashes produced abroad.

Table below shows the average constituents of common fly ashes




44.13 - 57.96


20.81 - 26.99


4.31 - 17.49


3.06 - 5.95


1.12 - 2.36


0.34 - 1.63

The Indian fly ashes, however, contain relatively higher amount of SiO2, Al2O3 and unburnt fuel and lower amounts of Fe2O3, SO3 and spheroidal glass. The crystalline phases present were identified as mullite, magnetite, haematite and quartz.

The important building materials, produced from fly ash by CBRI technical know-how are:

Portland-pozzolana cement

The Portland-pozzolana cement conforming to IS: 1489-1976 can be manufactured using fly ash either by intergrinding Portland cement clinker, fly ash and gypsum or by intimately blending together Portland cement and fly ash in suitable proportions. It is suitable for use wherever ordinary Portland cement is usable under normal conditions. It is low-heat giving and sulphate-resistant cement and therefore, is suitable for marine and hydraulic structures and mass concrete constructions.

Ready-mixed fly-ash concrete

Portland cement concrete in which a part of the cement has been replaced with fly ash is termed as fly-ash concrete. When it is prepared in plastic, unhardened, ready-for-the-use state, it is known as ready mixed fly ash concrete. It has a 28-days compressive strength equal to that of corresponding plain cement concrete. Batching and mixing of different ingredients is done at a central batching and mixing plant.

The ready mixed concrete has the advantages of better quality control, reduction in wastage and pilferage of materials, labour and supervision, which are normally associated with concrete prepared at site.

Precast fly-ash concrete building units

Work done at CBRI has shown that fly-ash concrete with 20 per cent less cement (by weight), having a one-day strength equal to corresponding plain cement concrete could be used for producing building blocks, flooring and roofing units (such as cored units, channel and cellular units).

Sintered fly-ash light-weight aggregate

The sintered fly ash light-weight aggregate (SFALA) is produced by:

(i) palletization of the fly-ash;
(ii) sintering the fly ash pellets in 1100°-1200°C in a vertical shaft kiln; or
(iii) on a moving grate sintering strand.

The production of SFALA from the Indian fly-ashes has been successfully carried out on a pilot plant moving grate sintering strand at CBRI (power: 12500 kwh/t, fuel: 10 per cent). The aggregate is suitable for use in the light-weight concrete and precast building units.

Table below shows some physical characteristics of light-weight concrete produced by SFALA:

Bulk density

1376 - 1776 kg/m3

Comprehensive strength (28 days)

152 - 400 kg/cm2

Bending strength

25 - 54 kg/cm2

Drying shrinkage

0.059 - 0.084 per cent

Lime fly ash cellular-concrete

Lime fly ash cellular-concrete consists of fine grained silicate structure having small and non-communicating air cells. It has a buck density of 400 - 1442 kg/m3 and good fire resistance and, like wood, it can be sawn, chiselled, screwed and nailed. Its building units having bulk density of 700 kg/m3 or higher are suitable for load bearing walls for 2 to 3 storey houses and partition walls in multistoreyed buildings.

Flay-ash building bricks

Good quality, high strength building bricks can be produced from fly ash using sodium silicate, cement or lime as binder. The mixture of fly ash, binder and coarse fillers such as bottom ash, sand etc. in suitable proportions, is moulded into bricks under pressure. While the sodium silicate bonded bricks are burnt at 1060° - 1100°C, the lime bonded fly ash bricks are autoclaved under saturated steam at a pressure of about 14 kg/cm2. The cement bonded fly-ash bricks are water cured at ambient temperature and dried before use. The process for manufacturing clay fly-ash bricks is similar to that of normal clay building bricks production except that certain amount of fly-ash (40 - 50 per cent) is mixed in the clay before moulding bricks. The fly-ash building bricks can be used like burnt bricks for all types of brick masonry.

Table below shows some physical properties of fly-ash building bricks

Water absorption

20 - 24 per cent

Bulk density

1317 - 1225 kg/m3

Crushing strength

140 - 150 kg/cm2

Portland cement clinker using fly-ash

Cement clinker was produced at 135°C (compared with traditional cement production which is at 145°C) by firing the nodules of raw mix containing fly ash instead of clay. Besides a substantial saving in fuel consumption, the use of fly ash in the raw mix has been found to enable production of cement clinker with MgO content of 6 per cent without causing unsoundness in the final cement.

Masonry cement

Masonry cement is mainly intended for use in place of ordinary Portland cement in masonry mortars. Work carried out at CBRI has shown that masonry cement conforming to the standard requirements can be produced by intergrinding 2 parts of fly-ash, 2 parts of hydrated lime, 1 part of Portland cement and 5 parts of granulated blast furnace slag with suitable quantity of gypsum and air entraining admixture.


First Preparatory Committee session for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), Geneva, Switzerland, 11-22 April 1994

In accordance with the resolution No. 47/180 of the United Nations General Assembly, the first Preparatory Committee session for Habitat II Conference took place at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 11 to 22 April 1994.

The session was attended by representatives from 96 countries 11 United Nations agencies, 6 specialized agencies, 33 non-governmental and 6 inter-governmental organizations.

The session was opened by Ms. Pamela Mboya (Kenya), Vice-Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee. Opening statements were made by the Secretary-General of the Conference, Dr. Wally N’Dow who is also the Assistant-Secretary-General of UNCHS (Habitat) and Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The session was then inaugurated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The session according to the adopted agenda, started its discussion on a number of issues related to the preparatory process and the Conference itself.

The discussions and deliberations focused on, among others, issues such as:

(a) Preparations for the Conference;

(b) Preparations at the country, regional and global levels;

(c) Draft statement of principles and commitments and draft issue papers and format for programmes and sub-programmes of the plan of action;

(d) Arrangements and provisional agenda for future session of the Preparatory Committee.

The Preparatory Committee then took a number of decisions and devised recommendations to be followed up by the Secretariat of Habitat II Conference and governments at large.

As part of its decisions the Preparatory Committee recommended the following overall objectives to serve as a guiding principle for all countries for Habitat II:

To increase the world awareness of the problems and potentials of human settlements - as important inputs to social progress and economic growth - and to commit the world’s leaders to making our cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, just and sustainable.

The Preparatory Committee further, refined the above objective into a set of operational objectives for preparations at the national, regional and international levels which included also the main areas of activities required to achieve the objectives as well as the structure of the national reports.

National reports, containing qualitative and quantitative indicators and structured as recommended, will support the Habitat II secretariat in producing a current and best available picture of the global settlements situation, and allow for a strategic response.

Another important outcome of the Preparatory Committee session was a set of guidelines that the secretariat of Habitat II, in consultation with Member States should take into account while formulating the drafts of Statement of Principles and Commitments and the Global Plan of Action. For example, the overall principle for the Statement of Principles and Commitments should be the Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which states:

“Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.”

Similarly the main objective of the Global Plan of Action should be based on the language contained in the human settlements chapter of Agenda 21 which states:

“The overall human settlement objective is to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular the urban and rural poor.”

Furthermore, the Global Plan of Action should be structured around the following two main themes of the Conference.

(a) Adequate shelter for all;
(b) Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world.

The Preparatory Committee finally made deliberations and took decisions on organizational issues such as:

(a) Nature of attendance;

(b) Regional level activities leading to the Conference;

(c) World fair;

(d) Non-governmental organizations and local government forums;

(e) Organization and objectives for the second session of the Preparatory Committee to be held in April/May 1995 in Nairobi, Kenya; and

(f) Financing of Habitat II Conference and its preparatory activities.

It also decided to recommend to the General Assembly of the United Nations to consider a proposal for the organization of a third Preparatory Committee session, to be held in the beginning of 1996 to arrest any loss of momentum due to the one-year gap between the second session and the Conference itself.

Note: The full text of the Report of the First Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) has been published by the United Nations: General Assembly Official Records. Forty-ninth Session, Supplement No. 37(A/49/37)

International Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators, Nairobi, Kenya 10-14 January 1994

The call by the General Assembly of the United Nations for a second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), to be held in June 1996, is influenced by the fact that despite considerable efforts at the local, national and international levels since the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (1976), the global human settlements situation has continued to deteriorate. The overall objective of the Habitat II Conference is, therefore, to arrest this trend and find effective ways of improving the living environment of all on a sustainable basis.

In this connection, the two major outcomes of the Habitat II Conference will be:

(a) Adoption of a Statement of Principles and Commitments; and
(b) A Global Plan of Action.

The latter will include a comprehensive set of programmes and sub-programmes, with realistic targets and timetables and provision for monitoring and evaluation of performance.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, in calling for the Habitat II Conference, suggested, among others, the need for countries to prepare national reports and for the Conference itself to undertake four major reviews as part of the preparatory process:

(a) Review progress achieved between 1976 and 1996 towards the objectives of the Habitat II Conference;

(b) Conduct a mid-term review of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000;

(c) Review the implementation of Agenda 21 in the area of human settlements:

(d) Review global macro-economic and social trends in terms of their impacts on human settlements conditions.

Within this framework and based on an agreement reached between the UNCHS (Habitat) and the World Bank in September 1993 the Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators to identify a preliminary list of indicators covering key areas of concern in the urban sector, was held at UNCHS (Habitat) headquarters in Nairobi. Kenya from 10 to 14 January 1994. The meeting was sponsored by UNCHS (Habitat) in association with the World Bank. 44 participants, who were mainly international experts from academic, government and international organizations including UNCHS (Habitat), attended the meeting.

The objectives of the Expert Group Meeting were to:

(a) Identify key urban sub-sectors within which performance indicators need to be developed for regular monitoring of urban sector performance;

(b) Identify a preliminary list of indicators;

(c) Examine the data requirements, cost effectiveness and key methodological problems related to the recommended indicators;

(d) Recommend a strategy and a framework for further development of the indicators for use in the preparation of national reports for Habitat II Conference and regular monitoring of the urban sector.

The five day meeting after having a number of plenary and working-group sessions and after carrying out in depth discussions and exchange of views, prepared a comprehensive set of assessment indicators which covered the key areas of urban sector. The major sectors for which indicators were devised were as follows:

(a) Poverty, employment, productivity;
(b) Social development;
(c) Infrastructure;
(d) Transport;
(e) Shelter and land;
(f) Environmental management;
(g) Local government.

The outcome of the meeting together with the recommended lists of indicators and the approach worked out therein was submitted to the first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee of Habitat II for its consideration.

Special Meeting of African Ministers Responsible for Human Settlements in the African Region Preparatory to the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), Nairobi, Kenya, 30 March 1994

The Special Meeting of African Ministers responsible for Human Settlements in the African Region look place at the United Nations offices at Nairobi. Kenya, on 30 March 1994. The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by a preparatory meeting of inter-governmental experts from 28 to 29 March 1994. The Meeting was convened by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Organization of African Unity, (OAU) with support from the Government of the Netherlands.

The Meeting was attended by Ministers and representatives from 45 Member States: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cd’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, STome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations attending the Meeting as observers were: Shelter Afrique S.A., Africa Housing Fund and the Pan-African Congress of Africa.

The Ministerial Meeting was opened with an address by Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Under-Secretary-General. Opening statements were also delivered by representatives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The meeting then considered the report of the Meeting of Inter-governmental Experts which had prepared for the “Ministers” Meeting and after debating and amending the draft Declaration presented by the Chairman, adopted the whole declaration.

The full text of the Declaration entitled:

Declaration By African Ministers Responsible for the Human Settlements on the Preparatory Process to the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) together with the report of the Meeting, summarizing opening statements, debates, recommendations and the list of participants has been published and distributed by UNCHS (Habitat).

Interested parties can obtain a copy of this report free of charge by contacting the Information and Audio-visual Division (IAVD) or the Habitat II Secretariat of UNCHS (Habitat), P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya.

The symbol of this document is:
HS/323/94E: ISBN 92-1-131241-8


Africa Waste Forum 1994, Nairobi, Kenya 23-25 November 1994

Pollution from waste is perhaps one of the most insidious threats to the environment of cities in the developing world and poses an ever-increasing problem to the health of a vast section of the population, particularly the urban poor.

Many cities are today producing waste at a rate which outpaces the capacity of local authorities to collect and dispose of it in a safe and efficient manner. Current approaches to waste management are neither effective nor sustainable. Many developing countries are heavily dependent on imported hardware and expertise and large amounts of foreign exchange are spent in the provision of solid-waste management services. Revenue collection for municipal services such as waste management is often poorly managed with the cost recovery being far less than the true cost of waste disposed.

As part of its on-going efforts on developing sustainable solid-waste management strategies UNCHS (Habitat) intends to organize a combined training course and workshop on various aspects of waste management with the aim of:

Transferring appropriate methods and approaches between developing countries, through documentation and demonstration of best practices;

(ii) Prioritizing issues on waste management including the application of appropriate and innovative technologies for waste reduction and recycling and reuse and:

(iii) Building capacity amongst national and local governments for waste management.

The major objectives of the workshop are to:

(i) Disseminate best practices in waste management;

(ii) Prioritize waste management problems in major cities in the region and identify areas requiring technical assistance through an interactive forum of municipal managers, NGO’s and sectoral professionals;

(iii) Formulate demonstration projects in priority areas identified above.

It is also expected that the Forum will produce the following outputs:

(a) A report on the proceedings of the Forum, including conclusions, recommendations and background documentation;

(b) Documented case studies of best practices for waste management;

(c) Local officials, entrepreneurs and NGOs sensitised to sustainable methods for waste management.

Each participant will be required to prepare a response paper addressing the current situations in each of the topics outlined below:

(a) Waste collection organization, refuse vehicle procurement and planning;
(b) Recycling and reuse - informal sector approaches, technologies and methods;
(c) Industrial and domestic wastewater management including recycling and reuse;
(d) Hazardous and clinical waste management.

For more information contact the Building and Infrastructure Technology Section, Research and Development Division, UNCHS, (Habitat) P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya.

Tel: (254-2) 621234/3039
Fax:(254-2) 624265

Regional Workshop on Lime and Alternative Binders for East Africa, Tororo, Uganda, 6-10 December 1994

The Intermediate Technology Development Group in collaboration with the Government of Uganda has planned the organization of the above mentioned Workshop to address issues related to the high cost of building materials in the region with particular emphasis on alternative binding materials as a substitute to cement. Lime and other types of natural and artificial binders, which could replace cement, are produced in the region on a small-scale using rudimentary and inefficient technologies. Even though there is a great demand on these materials in the region, efforts to popularize and adopt their wide-scale production and use have been hampered because of numerous reasons.

The Workshop has the following objectives:

· To take stock of and share experiences in the production and use of alternative binders;

· To bring together major stakeholders in binders from the region;

· To create links between producers and users of alternative binders in the region - transfers of experiences;

· To increase understanding among producers and users of alternative binders, with the aim of identifying the key bottlenecks and problems, and to make suggestions for tackling them through various types of support;

· To define with full participation of key actors, a programme of action for the promotion of alternative binders.

The Workshop is expected to identify the prevailing problems for the production and use of alternative binders in the region and to devise a set of recommendations and action plans. The participants will be drawn from the countries in the region and some international organizations including UNCHS (Habitat) and UNIDO. The country participants are also expected to prepare case studies on the experiences of their respective countries on the production of alternative binding materials.

For more information, please contact:

Intermediate Technology Development Group 22
Chiromo Access Road
Off Riverside Drive
P.O. Box 39493
Nairobi, Kenya

Tel: 442108/446243/444887
Fax: 254-2-445166

International Conference on Re-Appraising the City Planning Process as an Instrument for Sustainable Urban Development and Management

Nairobi, Kenya, 3 - 7 October 1994

Urban planning and management is an important process for the realization of the objectives and other recommendations of Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Agenda urges, among other things: that “all countries, as appropriate, and in accordance with their national plans, objectives and priorities..... adopt innovative city planning strategies to address environmental and social issues”.

Planning is obviously a fundamental strategic tool of effective urban development and management.

Acknowledging the actual and potential contributions of planning to sustainable urban development and management, the relevant issue becomes one of reviewing, re-appraising and identifying the causes of the constraints to and ineffectiveness of the process.

The objectives of this Conference are:

(a) to undertake an extensive appraisal and evaluation of the efficacy of existing planning instruments and approaches, identify their strengths and weaknesses and explore and suggest measures to adapt and reform them if necessary in the context of accountable and participative systems of urban management and with due recognition to the role of market forces in urban development;

(b) to sensitize and invigorate national and municipal authorities to the necessity to more sensitively employ urban planning instruments in guiding urban development and environmental management programmes;

(c) to provide the forum of a conference for urban and environmental planning officials at the central, provincial and municipal government levels, representatives of planning schools, research institutes, interested private developers, and relevant non-governmental organizations, as well as other groups of people concerned with, working on, or affected by the process of urban planning, development and management, to re-examine and discuss approaches as well as re-evaluate the continued relevance of the process and how best to enhance its efficacy and effectiveness in the future.

There will be a Round Table panel session on the topic, “Urban Management related issues of Agenda 21”.

The outcome of this Conference will be a report which will provide an important input to the deliberations and possible recommendations of the forthcoming second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), and into the evolving policies of the Urban Management Programme.

For more information, please contact:

UNCHS (Habitat),
P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya

Tel: (254-2) 621234/3041
Fax: (254-2) 624265/6/7

Publications review - Published by UNCHS (Habitat)

Improving Rural Regional Settlement Systems in Africa

In most developing countries, rural service centres play a very important role in the lives of rural inhabitants. Agricultural inputs, such as seed, fertilizers, as well as support services such as agricultural extension, credit facilities and repair of agricultural machinery, are all provided directly to farmers from rural service centres. Rural service centres also constitute the first agricultural produce collection points in the agricultural marketing chain. In addition, rural service centres provide the most suitable framework for the location of basic retail shops, primary education and health-care facilities, as well as infrastructure support for rural industry, including electricity, water, transport and telecommunication facilities.

In Africa, the importance of rural service centres cannot be overemphasized. The majority of the population of most African countries is still rural, and most of them are directly depended on agriculture for their livelihoods. In addition, most African nations depend on agriculture for most of their export earnings. Clearly, rural service centre planning and management is an important subject which deserves greater attention than it has hitherto been accorded.

The study is a synthesis of information from four case studies of rural service centres in Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania, which were commissioned by UNCHS (Habitat) in 1992. The study covers the following issues: conceptual basis for rural service centre planning; the content of national rural service centre policies, as well as that of other relevant policy frameworks; the management of rural service centres, including institutional organizations, finance, and provision and maintenance of infrastructure and services. On the basis of an assessment of both existing rural service centre policies and management practices, the study also explores possible avenues for the improvement of national rural service centre policy formulation and rural service centre management.

The specific objectives of this study are:

(a) To examine existing national policy frameworks within which rural service centres are developed, and the extent to which these centres have been able to provide the services required by their rural hinterlands, including: commercial (retail, banking, agricultural inputs etc.); administrative (extension, community training etc.); transport and marketing; rural industry and employment;

(b) To examine the ways (both conventional and alternative) in which rural service centres are currently being managed, including the roles of the public sector, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and individuals.


86 pp., HS/290/93E: ISBN 92-1-131213-2

UNCHS (Habitat) in sub-Saharan Africa

Human settlements issues in Africa are closely linked to various factors such as increasing population, decreasing per capita income, rapid urbanization, displacement on account of political reasons, and an unfavourable world economic order.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s population of 450 million in 1990 is twice its population in 1965 and more than five times that at the beginning of the century. With a growth rate of around 3 per cent annually, its population is projected to reach 1.1 billion by the year 2015. The implications of this rapid upward trend in population growth are enormous.

During the next 30 years the rates of entry into the labour force will double and land-to-people ratios, already a constraint on agricultural development, will worsen. This exceptional demographic surge will be accompanied by massive pressures for migration. Most of the migrants will settle in the expanding urban centres, leading to the proliferation of large cities.

In 1960, there were only two cities in sub-Saharan Africa with over 500,000 inhabitants, but 20 years later there were 14 such cities. By the year 2000 there will be over 20 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. Lagos will have a population of 8.3 million, Kinshasa 8 million and Jos 7.7 million, while Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Khartoum and Addis Ababa will all be over 4 million. The urban population is expected to grow from 129 million in 1980 to over 765 million by the year 2020 by which time more than 50 per cent of the region’s population will be living in urban centres.

This publication is a compilation of summaries of UNCHS (Habitat)’s main technical co-operation activities in the region which covers 19 countries. Considering the weaknesses of local-level governments and the absence of appropriate national housing strategies, the technical assistance to sub-Saharan African countries by UNCHS (Habitat) focuses mainly on two priority areas: improvement of urban management, and formulation and implementation of national housing strategies.


130 pp., HS/289/93E: ISBN 92-131212-4

Endogenous Capacity-Building for the Production of Binding Materials in the Construction Industry - Selected Case-Studies

In its effort to promote low-cost construction techniques, UNCHS (Habitat) has for several years been advocating the use of alternative binders. Notable among these are natural and artificial pozzolanas which can be used as an admixture to both lime and cement. Many African countries are endowed with natural pozzolanas such as volcanic ash which, together with locally-produced lime, can produce an excellent low-cost binder suitable for most house-building applications. Similarly, artificial pozzolanas, derived from agricultural and industrial residues, can not only be substituted for Portland cement in many applications, but can minimize certain environmental problems as well. Countries such as China, India, Malaysia and Thailand, produce millions of tons of fly-ash annually in their coal-fired power stations. Many South and East Asian countries also produce large quantities of rice husk from paddy processing. Their conversion into useful binders could help in disposing of these wastes in an environmentally sound manner.

Cementitious binders, such as Portland cement, lime, lime-pozzolana, and gypsum, are essential building materials for the construction industry, in general and for low-cost housing, in particular. Among all the binding materials, Portland cement, because of its versatility, remains the most popular with the builders. However, the experience of the past two decades or so has shown that in the context of low-cost house construction in most developing countries the increasing demand for binding materials cannot be satisfied by relying on Portland cement. In fact, it is not uncommon to see in many cities and towns in developing countries a large number of partially-built structures the completion of which is delayed because of the scarcity of Portland cement or a sudden increase in its price.

The consumption of Portland cement in most developing countries has increased rapidly over the past two decades with an attendant increase of imports. Despite increased imports and the expansion of domestic production, Portland cement is still not available in sufficient quantities and its price remains beyond the reach of the majority of the population. The main reasons for this scarcity are: the low capacity utilization of large-scale imported plants; constraints in the availability of spare parts; and distribution problems.

Experience has shown that the constraints and challenges facing the development of the local building-materials industry are quite similar in many developing countries and are associated mainly, with a lack of information on alternative technologies for production. Wide-ranging information is required to make an appropriate choice among alternative technologies. A prospective entrepreneur, for example, or an industrial promotion agency looking for new technologies will need information on the technical and managerial features of available production processes. However, given the general resource constraints in most developing countries the bulk of users and promoters of technologies have very limited access to information on new and alternative technologies coming into the market.

This publication has been produced in an attempt to fill this gap by compiling a number of case studies on achievements and constraints which are faced in producing alternative binders such as lime and pozzolanas. Efforts have been made to describe not only the technical features of production, but also the non-technical aspects of development such as the methods applied for the acquisition and development of technologies, problems encountered and how they were solved.

In view of the limited technological capacities of African countries and the relevance and cost-effectiveness of regional cooperation for transfer and diffusion of technologies, most case studies are selected from African countries to stimulate other countries in that region to benefit from them. Additionally, a case study on lime from India has also been included to demonstrate the scale-effect of lime production.


124 pp., HS/292/93E: ISBN 92-1-131215-9

Directory of non-governmental organizations in the field of Human Settlements

In recent years, there has been increased recognition of the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the development and management of human settlements. The adoption of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 by the General Assembly of the United Nations has enhanced the role of the non-governmental sector in the provision and improvement of shelter and services, particularly to the poor and disadvantaged. More and more governments are adopting the enabling strategies urged by the Global Strategy in their national shelter strategies and this is facilitating the activities of NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), housing cooperatives and others involved in various aspects of human settlements. Furthermore, the adoption of Agenda 21 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) has given impetus to the non-governmental sector to strengthen its role in the sustainable development of human settlements.

This Directory has been compiled in cooperation with Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the umbrella body of NGOs working on human settlements issues, as well as a large number of NGOs and CBOs who participated in the questionnaire survey undertaken by UNCHS (Habitat) to develop its NGO database. In spite of the wide cooperation, this first Directory of Non-governmental Organizations in the Field of Human Settlements should not be considered as a complete coverage of all NGOs active in the human settlements field. It is hoped that it will encourage those not included to provide relevant information so that they may be included in the UNCHS (Habitat) NGO database.

Although far from complete, this directory aims at filling a gap that has been felt in recent years as a result of growing interest in involving NGOs in the development process at the international, regional, national and local levels. It is hoped that it will also facilitate cooperation between the governmental and non-governmental sectors in the improvement of human settlements.


215 pp., HS/271/91/E: ISBN 92-131199-3

PO Box 30030 Nairobi, KENYA. Telephone 621234
Cable UNHABITAT; FAX (254) - 2 - 624266/624267; Telex: 22996 UNHABKE