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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 2, Number 4 (HABITAT, 1993, 66 p.)
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View the documentThe Aim of the Network and its Journal
View the documentForeword
View the documentWorkshop of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies, Nairobi, Kenya, 6-8 September 1993
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The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s calls on the international community to provide support and assistance in dealing with the critical economic situation in Africa. Africa's responsibility and commitment to specific actions under the new Agenda cover areas such as the promotion of regional and sub-regional economic cooperation and integration, the enhancement of capacity-building, investment promotion, and the promotion of sustainable development and environmental management, among others.

Even though the economic conditions in many African countries are deteriorating, mainly, because of the inadequacy of the external financial flows, economic recovery programmes are being undertaken or planned by most countries. Among the various avenues that an economic recovery programme can make a breakthrough are the increased activities of the construction sector which, not only will expand economic activities in every country and create jobs, but will also improve the living conditions of the majority of low-income people.

The constraints imposed by the current economic situation are, unfortunately, not limited to the countries of the African region, but are indeed a global phenomenon. No doubt, given this situation, the international community, having the mandate of providing support to the developing countries, and to Africa in particular, has to undertake programmes aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of the developing world. A good example of such support can be found in the field of construction and the building-materials sector, where, the basic problems of the low quality, inadequate supply and high cost of materials could be tackled by fostering regional cooperation and capacity-building at the national level.

In the framework of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies and in an effort to expand its cooperation with African countries, UNCHS (Habitat) organized a Workshop on the Network in September 1993 to develop a strategy for strengthening the activities of the Network and also to establish a basis for launching a programme for domestic capacity-building in the building materials sector in sub-Saharan African countries.

I am pleased to mention here that the Workshop successfully achieved its objectives and by devising a set of action-oriented recommendations the Workshop paved the way for future increased cooperation between UNCHS (Habitat) and countries of the African region. In fact the main feature of this issue of the Journal is the report of the Workshop which covers also its findings, and recommendations.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the distinguished representatives of Governments of African countries who attended the Workshop and made it a success. Our sincere thanks are also extended to a number of international agencies such as ECA, UNIDO, Shelter-Afrique, GTZ and other governmental and non-governmental organizations and individuals from the private and public sectors who were represented in the Workshop and made every effort to achieve the objectives of the Workshop.

It is hoped that the report given in this Journal will stimulate and encourage all focal points and national coordinators of the Network to undertake follow-up activities based on the recommendations of the Workshop and will strengthen their cooperation with UNCHS (Habitat) to achieve the overall goals of the Network.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

Delapitated shelter needs to be replaced by adequate housing using durable building materials and appropriate construction techniques

Courtesy: Mark Edwards