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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 3 (HABITAT, 1995, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Aim of the Network and Its Journal
View the documentForeword
View the documentImportance of Appropriate Building Codes and Regulations in Improving Low-Income Settlements Conditions in African Region*
View the documentKenya: Building Standards and Planning Regulations - The Kenyan Experience**
View the documentTanzania: Sustainability of Building Materials Supply in Dar es Salaam***
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications Review
View the documentBack Cover


June 1995
ISSN 1012-9812

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 has the objective of strengthening local technological capacity through facilitating information flow, regional co-operation and transfer of appropriate technologies in low-cost and innovative building materials sector in African countries.

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

Efforts are made to compile, process and publish articles and technical papers originating mainly from the African region. However, research findings and technological information deemed appropriate and available in countries outside the African region are also included to stimulate interregional 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 welcomed, 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
Windhok, 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
Tunis, Tunisia

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development
Kampala, Uganda

Building Research Unit (BRU)
United Republic of Tanzania

National Housing Authority
Lusaka, Zambia

Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing

Kalyan Ray

Baris Der-Petrossian


The plight of low-income people in terms of lack of shelter has been a subject of concern for many developing countries and the international community in the past several decades. For various reasons, the attempts of many developing countries to absorb and utilize advanced construction technologies to meet the demand for shelter for their low-income population have not been very successful. In light of this situation, there is every good reason to focus on improving and upgrading traditional technologies - backed by appropriate building codes, regulations and standards - so that people can build their houses using local resources and skills. Population growth and economic imbalances have also been additional hampering realities which have presented the governments from pursuing their housing policies so as to facilitate delivery of adequate quantities of housing for their citizens.

There are number of other reasons why the building industry in many African countries has been unable to meet the demand of shelter for the low-income population. One of the most intractable difficulties faced by the industry is the existence of inappropriate building codes and regulations which, very often, place restriction on shelter production. Many of these codes and regulations are inherited and, typically, specify materials and technologies which are originated in developed countries and were designed for industrialized settings and under different conditions and time frames. As a result, most of them are not fully relevant to only but upper-income residential areas.

The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) has long been aware of the need for reformulation of building codes and regulations of many African countries and has conducted considerable research to that effect. The Global Plan of Action of the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), adopted in Istanbul, has also included - in its recommendations to governments - the use of appropriate building codes and regulations. However, since no global set of codes and regulations can fit every case, each country must develop its own performance codes and regulations based on its own resource endowments and socio-economic policies.

The main feature of this issue of the Journal is: the importance of appropriate building codes and regulations in improving the delivery of low-income housing in the African region. It is hoped that this issue will prove useful to policy-makers as well as professionals in their efforts at reviewing and reformulating their building codes and regulations. In this context, it should be borne in mind that the ultimate purpose of any reformulation exercise should, obviously, be to facilitate the use of appropriate and low-cost materials in the construction sector for low-income housing delivery.

The efforts of Mr. Baris Der-Petrossian of UNCHS (Habitat)'s Research and Development Division in compiling material, editing, drafting and producing this issue of the Journal are thankfully acknowledged.

Dr. Wally N'dow
Assistant Secretary-General
UNCHS (Habitat)

Low-cost housing construction using locally available materials

Importance of Appropriate Building Codes and Regulations in Improving Low-Income Settlements Conditions in African Region*

* By Baris Der-Petrossian, UNCHS (Habitat). It is partly based on an earlier research work conducted by UNCHS (Habitat).


The provision and/or improvement of shelter conditions of low-income populations which is dependent on sound construction sector activities is instrumental in attaining the goals of social and economic development in every country. Shelter has been classified as a basic human need, and building codes and regulations should support the realization of this need by facilitating the access of the low-income people and the poor to basic shelter. This can be achieved by stimulating individual and collective solutions to shelter problems and by fostering a construction industry based on appropriate technology and the use of locally available resources. Thus, development plans and goals ought to give special attention to the impact of building codes and regulations on the provision and/or improvement of shelter for low-income people.

Those most severely affected by current approaches to building codes and regulations are the poor, who are the majority in both urban and rural areas. The physical conditions of the rapidly growing low-income settlements are in most cases not adequate, and efforts should be made to eliminate their marginality vis-a-vis the main thrust of urban development efforts. This is a massive undertaking, since the rural life from which most residents have immigrated is not improving fast enough to close the gap between rural and urban life-styles, with the result that migration continues and the physical development problems of urban areas increase. Accordingly, it is incumbent on National Governments to pursue development programmes that embrace building regulations sensitive to the needs and capacities of the poor.

The extent to which building codes and regulations have an impact on national objectives depends largely upon the degree to which they encourage actions which are consistent with and supportive of national-development goals. However, in many African countries, present codes and regulations, often, hamper national efforts by introducing inappropriate requirements and limitations into the building process; either they seek different objectives or they attach different priorities to existing objectives. This applies especially to the environment of human settlements, because historically, codes, regulations and standards have emphasized development in urban areas. Consequently, it is not surprising that this regulatory framework has tended to contribute to the creation in many countries not only of a dual economy but also of a dual construction sector output marked by structures such as modern office buildings, commercial buildings, hotels and high-class residential buildings on the one hand and slums and squatter settlements on the other.

Appropriately-designed codes and regulations could provide a framework and guidelines for developing a comprehensive shelter and infrastructure programme that could satisfy the needs of low-income population. However, present codes and regulations, often, tend to inhibit the development of flexible construction practices. In addition, exclusive large-scale industrial processes have been encouraged by existing code requirements, with the result that the introduction of change into appropriate construction practice has been hampered. Thus, the introduction of flexible codes and regulations could greatly alter the construction sector and could directly contribute to increased productivity and employment and a strengthened relationship between the formal and informal sectors.

An essential first step in the review and evaluation of building regulations and codes would be the analysis of those inherited ones which do not suit the requirements of low-income settlements. The critical areas hampering the development of low-cost construction practices should be identified and the current approaches should be modified accordingly. While safety and health are fundamental objectives in any type of construction process, the basic goal should be to improve the capacity of the indigenous construction industry, so that it can cater for the needs of the poor. The reformulation process of building regulations and codes should seek to promote the wide-scale adoption of indigenous building materials and construction techniques.

In addition to government efforts in modifying the existing building codes and regulations, non-governmental action can contribute to the development of more appropriate building regulations through the organization of community development programmes and facilitating the exchange and dissemination of information. The problem of lack of information on codes and regulations and the urgent need to introduce reform is now being addressed by national agencies, universities, centres for appropriate technology, self-reliance groups and community-based organizations. The results of these efforts should be presented and distributed in a form understandable to low-income people. Since low-income residents are often suspicious of all forms of government regulation, attitudes will need to be changed if ordinary people are to become involved in activities related to code reform and usage. The importance of community initiatives and professional involvement in developing public awareness programmes on this subject should not be underestimated. Specifically, community-based organizations could facilitate the establishment and organization of special programmes and could serve as important mechanisms for linking the low-income community and the building industry.

This paper attempts to present an overview of prevailing trends, issues and setbacks in the field of building codes and regulations in African countries. It identifies some of the implications of the present situation with regard to the ability of decision-makers and professionals to achieve the goals of improved human settlements through appropriate construction sector activities. It also attempts to describe how African countries are responding to the inappropriateness of existing building codes and regulations. Consequences of the present situation are particularly serious for low-income settlements, where most of the rural and urban population lives. The central theme of the paper is that appropriate building codes and regulations could directly contribute to the improvement of living conditions in these settlements. The aim should be to work towards a congruency between the built environment and national development efforts so that the needs of all are addressed in a fair manner.


Building regulations are statutory instruments intended to serve the construction industry. They consist of a set of regulations and rules to control the construction of buildings. They expand on purely legislative documents of Acts and Ordinances, but on their own, they are statutory and must be complied with. The term “building by-laws” is technically synonymous with building regulations but it refers to rules adopted at the local level as approved at the national level. The International Organizations for Standardization (ISO) has defined a regulation as “A binding document which contains legislative, regulatory or administrative rules and which is adopted and published by an authority legally vested with the necessary power”.

Building codes are a set of practical technical and administrative rules and requirements for the construction of buildings. Unlike building regulations, codes are not normally mandatory but could be made so by an appropriate reference in the regulations. In most instances, regulatory and mandatory issues are contained in building regulations, whereas building codes are technical requirements and details which support the regulations.

Building regulations and codes are applied mostly to permanent structures in urban areas which are designed by professional architects and engineers according to established standards of modern construction practice. However, the bulk of construction activity, especially in the residential sector and particularly for the low-income population, follows traditional construction practice, and this produces structures which fall outside the scope of most building legislation.

In general, codes and regulations prescribe the manner in which people must build in order to ensure structural safety, prevent fire and promote public health. Frequently, in order to implement the standards contained in these codes, foreign technologies are required. Such codes tend to be insensitive to indigenous technologies and building practices which might make better use of locally-available materials and labour. When efforts have been made to incorporate national concerns and objectives into building codes, the results have not really let to a greater use of local resources. A major reason for this is that many African countries lack indigenous expertise and empirical knowledge, both of which are required in order to revise building codes and regulations in accordance with national needs and conditions.

Building codes and regulations should be made more sensitive to the use of natural resources in the building industry and should encourage or specify construction practices that require the use of local technologies and materials. This may lead to the following consequences: local consumption of renewable resources; the production of energy-efficient buildings and the use of low-energy construction processes; and the increased utilization of locally-available human resources in the construction process. Codes and regulations could also encourage the gradual refinement and greater use of indigenous technology, help conserve local natural resources and promote the construction and maintenance of dwellings by low-income populations.

In most African countries, existing building codes are frequently difficult to understand and work with because they have often been copied from codes enacted in a developed country which has very different objectives and conditions from those currently found in African countries. This situation has caused some countries to redesign and rewrite their building codes in order to accommodate indigenous conditions and to present the codes in a clear and concise way using illustrations where appropriate. The intention is to make the building codes more consistent with national conditions, while at the same time making them more understandable to the public at large and especially to the small ad hoc builder. On the other hand, building codes do require the use of technical language and must be precise in order to facilitate accurate and uniform interpretation in cases of litigation. These two needs must be brought into balance for codes to be effective and utilized justly.

Although there is great similarity and uniformity among building codes and regulations around the world, it is clear that there are great variations in the living habits, preferences and needs of different national populations. For example, in most African countries, existing building codes are based upon scientific knowledge regarding what is necessary in order to ensure the health and safety of the population. Yet the circumstances found in African countries are, often, different from circumstances elsewhere, and it is necessary to define exactly what is meant by the concepts of health and safety as they apply to a particular country at a given time.

Health in one country may be defined in terms of some minimum set of standards which must be met, while in another country, because of prevailing conditions, the corresponding standards might be either higher or lower. It should be recalled that standards include a value component which is not absolute but culturally relative. Similarly the degree of structural safety can be varied from country to country if hazards caused by natural disasters are to be dealt with in the design and construction of structures. Obviously, different types of natural disasters require different types of safety measures which would he different from country to country and region to region.

In many countries, national building codes encompass all of the construction processes, but they apply almost exclusively to construction taking place in urban areas. They serve as legal instruments specifying minimum standards for the design and construction of all types of buildings. Generally speaking, building construction in rural areas is ignored, if not in the code then in the enforcement process. The codes or regulations that do exist in rural areas are usually limited to health matters, especially rural sanitation and water supply. Where special rural development programmes have been implemented, the resulting housing and community facilities have usually been built according to detailed construction specifications, usually with supervision by qualified personnel. However, such programmes constitute only a very small portion of the rural built environment, since the typical pattern is one of uncontrolled and unguided development. It is interesting to note that even where there is a systematic and controlled construction of rural dwellings, such programmes have had limited influence on subsequent construction in the immediate vicinity.

Finally, one thing is clear, that the importation of a foreign building code and its subsequent uniform application throughout a country can not contribute significantly to the achievement of national development objectives.

Poor construction and non-adherence to specifications and standards can cause damages to low-cost buildings


(a) Safety in construction

One of the major concerns of building codes and regulations is to ensure safety of the built environment. Buildings and physical infrastructure are prone to hazards during construction and after the facility is in use. It is, therefore, important to take measures to eliminate, prevent and control such hazards through application of and adherence to the building codes and regulations. If certain principles and guidelines of structural design and construction are ignored, the result is structural risk, varying from superficial damage to total collapse. Sometimes, the impact of unsafe construction may have immediate consequences of structural damage or collapse, but, in other instances, deterioration may be a gradual process spanning several years, often unnoticed but ultimately leading to a total failure of the structure. Building regulations and codes can help remove these hazards by ensuring that the correct principles and practices of structural stability and durability are adhered to. Even where a faulty structure has already been erected, it is possible, through certain provisions in codes and regulations, to rectify the error and, thus, prevent a potential calamity.

In addition to structural stability and durability, there exist a number of other safety criteria which are as follows:

(i) Fire

Buildings can be exposed to fire hazards through faulty electrical and mechanical installations which can lead to loss of life and damage to property, including irreparable damage to the building itself. Sometimes, a fire outbreak may result from accidents not related to errors in electrical or mechanical installations but, even in such cases, it is essential that buildings provide some minimal protection for life and property. Building regulations and codes can promote good construction practice to minimize fire hazards and can, as well, help ensure that, if ever there is a fire outbreak, there will be an opportunity to save lives and salvage property. Mandatory installation of smoke detectors and automatic water sprinkles are good examples for preventing fire damages to buildings.

(ii) Natural and human-made disasters

Disasters, such as earthquakes, cyclones and floods, are natural occurrences which can be destructive to buildings and property in general. Damage to structures resulting from such disasters is often severe and, even if reparable, can be crippling in cost to the national economy. Even though disasters can hardly be prevented, it is possible to minimize the damage to property and lives through the application of appropriate regulations and codes. Some disasters are mild, occurring infrequently and their effects can be mitigated by adherence to simple standard structural design and construction practices. With severe disasters, such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, several types of regulations can be applied to minimize damage.

It is not surprising to note that in many earthquake-prone regions and countries quite a number of old buildings are being strengthened structurally in order to protect them from collapse during severe earthquakes. Obviously, all these efforts, which are very costly and complicated, are done in adherence to newly revised or established codes and regulations based on technological advancements and experiences learnt during past disasters.

(iii) Risks to construction workers

On-site construction workers are exposed to occupational hazards which, in some instances, could lead to loss of life or permanent disablement. Some on site hazards occur as a result of unavoidable accidents, but many occur as a result of incompetence or ignorance. Building regulations and codes can minimize hazards on construction sites and, thereby, ensure reasonable protection for construction workers. Most of these regulations are produced by the ministries of labour which are concerned with the safety of labour in construction sites as well as other industries with high risk to the safety of workers.

(b) Health in the built environment

Criteria for health are often subjective and controversial, but there are several risks to health which result from faulty construction. With defects in construction related to water supply or sanitation, the risks to health are great and can be easily recognized and accounted for, but inadequate day lighting, poor artificial lighting and poor ventilation are also some of the typical consequences of faulty architectural-design construction-practices. Errors of this nature are often not easily recognized, and the damage that they cause may have only a gradual harmful effect; nonetheless, they could lead to problems of ill-health in the long-run. Problems associated with health hazards of certain building materials, such as, asbestos, certain paints, plastic and insulation compounds, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds, etc., are also among critical issues which in the recent time have attracted great attention. In order to reduce/eliminate health hazards associated with these type of building materials many countries have already taken steps to revise their building regulations to incorporate such issues.

(c) Legal controls

The nature of construction industry in most countries justifies the need for strict legal controls to ensure conformity. A typical construction activity requires a wide range of skills and specialists, but, in most cases, entry into the construction profession is without any effective checks against unskilled practitioners. For instance, a contractor can decide to reduce the required quantity of cement in concrete below the tolerable limit for the simple purpose of defrauding the client and thereby maximizing profits. It is even possible to recruit apprentices to undertake rather complex and specialized tasks, with the aim of cutting down on labour costs. Similarly, clients or property developers may permit unsafe construction in order to maximize profits.

In this context building regulations and codes are there to provide the legal means to ensure safety, health and orderly development in construction. The legal consequences for non-compliance with stipulated regulations and codes could be, to a large extent, a deterrent to faulty construction. For instance, demolition of a building could be the penalty for an illegal construction, and this is severe enough to guarantee some basic conformity to regulations and codes. Where the penalties are all-embracing, to affect both owner and builder, regulations and codes are likely to achieve a high degree of conformity.

The importance of building regulations and codes as legislative controls in construction is determined by the ability to enforce them. Unless they are enforced, the legal penalties attached to them do not safeguard against faulty construction. However, even when enforcement procedures are deficient, building regulations and codes are important in providing technical guidance despite their limitations as legal controls.

(d) The economic significance

The cost of constructing a building is often high and represents a sizeable investment, so that it may not be feasible to replace such capital, should it be lost. For an individual house-owner, an investment in shelter might have been achieved through a life-time of hard saving, and the building might be expected to last an entire generation or more, so that it is important that avoidable errors be corrected by regulations and codes. Furthermore, if safety, health and orderly development are not ensured in the construction, the resulting damage, particularly to physical structures, can be costly to individuals as well as to the national economy.

Building regulations and codes can determine the types of building materials, construction techniques and skills used in building and, in general, influence the technological direction of the construction industry which have direct bearing on the total cost of buildings. This is, generally, relevant to most developing countries, because, in most cases, the construction industry uses a high proportion of imports. To some extent, the import-dependence of the construction industry can be blamed on regulations and codes which specify materials and technologies beyond the resource capacities of the countries. In many cases, there is even a wastage or wrong application of expensive, scarce and imported materials.

Similarly, building regulations and codes can be used to promote the adoption of locally - available building materials construction techniques and skills, to replace materials and technologies which are based on costly imported inputs. Some of these indigenous inputs in construction are traditional but are neglected, while others are innovative and yet to achieve wide-scale adoption. In both cases, their popularity in production and use can be assured by incorporating them in regulatory instruments. Promoting indigenous inputs in construction not only reduces imports but, in addition, generates employment and income-earning opportunities, by stimulating the growth of industries. Hence, overall economic improvement in every country.

(e) Low-income shelter

Building regulations and codes are important for all types of construction activities but, in the context of African countries, they are particularly important for low-income shelter, because a single effort through these regulatory processes could lead to significant improvements. For example, regulations and codes can incorporate the types of building by low-income groups. The use of soil in construction, probably, offers the best opportunity for most low-income settlements to provide for their basic shelter needs. However, to build a safe and durable house in soil at affordable costs, requires some basic technical guidelines which can be provided through building regulations and codes backed by adequate standards. In some situations, building technologies to improve low-income shelter are already known but until the time that they are incorporated in building regulations and codes, they will not be accepted and applied by the low-income group. In fact, in most African countries, there are several building materials and techniques, apart from soil, which could have an impact on the shelter situation of the low-income population. However, they are likely to gain wide-scale popularity and adoption if promoted through building regulations and codes.


(a) Technical components

The technical contents of regulations cover, in general, two main aspects. The first is related to town planning rules and regulations, dealing with items such as net residential density, street sizes, provision of open spaces in residential areas, plot sizes and provision of amenities. The second aspect is related to buildings and building construction, covering items such as size of rooms, materials for construction, thickness of walls, placement of windows and doors and structural considerations. In some countries the town planning aspects are combined with building rules, but, in many other countries, the distinct subjects are separated.

In terms of coverage of technical issues, most of the regulations and codes are usually inadequate. For instance, most building regulations are not comprehensive but focus exclusively on residential buildings. Probably because most regulations and codes are old, they tend to ignore specialized features of building construction such as lifts, fire protection regulations, multi-storey buildings, complex industrial and commercial structures disaster resistance and similar recent developments. Building codes, as distinct from building regulations, provide the real technical guidance in construction and explain and expand on the regulations, thus forming the core of the regulatory procedures. However, in most African countries, codes of practice for construction industry, if in existence, are sometimes limited to codes of practice for certain types of structural elements such as reinforced concrete or steel structures which are themselves adapted from foreign sources.

In many cases, building regulations seem to be specification oriented, thus, having restrictive nature. However, in construction practice, the choice of a particular building material or construction technique is determined primarily by the function that is assigned to it, and, where there is a clear understanding of functional requirements, a building element can be produced, by selection of the most appropriate one from a multitude of building materials. For example, if a wall is required to divide two rooms for the simple purpose of providing privacy, it need not be restricted to a concrete block wall and, if it has to be a concrete block wall, it need not be limited to a particular dimension because, with different techniques, a small or large dimension could perform the same function. Unfortunately, most building regulations and codes are designed with a restrictive approach, with the consequence that the construction industry has, for a long time, been limited to only a few building materials and techniques, and new options, especially if they are not imported, have little chance of being incorporated in the regulatory instruments.

An automated press for producing high quality and standardized soil blocks - Gabon

In most African countries, existing building codes are frequently difficult to understand and work with because they have often been copied from codes enacted in a developed country which has very different objectives and conditions from those currently found in African countries. This situation has caused some countries to redesign and rewrite their building codes in order to accommodate indigenous conditions and to present the codes in a clear and concise fashion, using illustrations where appropriate. The intention is to make the building codes more consistent with national conditions, while at the same time making them more understandable to the public at large and especially to the small-scale builder. On the other hand, building codes do require the use of technical languages and must be precise in order to facilitate accurate and uniform interpretation in cases of litigation. These two needs must be brought into balance for codes to be effective and utilized justly.

The, manner in which regulations and codes are presented lacks communicability. Presenting codes in an official language, such as English or French is had enough when the majority of the people to whom the codes are addressed are basically illiterate but, even disregarding the widespread conditions of illiteracy, there is still a problem of lack of clarity of expression which may contuse even professionals in the construction industry.

(b) Enforcement

One of the main requirements for adequate enforcement process is to make sure whether every single construction project has a building permit. In addition, there must be adequate quantity of skilled staff to visit the sites proposed for construction before granting a building permit, and, most importantly, the construction site must be visited at various stages when construction is in progress, to ensure conformity with the approved design. However, practically most enforcement agencies in African countries are either under-staffed or do not possess adequate skills, and the minimum inputs required to perform these functions, such as vehicles and surveying instruments, are rarely available. What happens in reality is that most of the operations which are supposed to take place outside the offices of the enforcement agencies, such as site visits are often ignored, although these activities are the very basic requirements for enforcement processes. Obviously, in the absence of regular site visits, enforcement process becomes a simple and administrative undertaking for the approval of plans and drawings.

Weakness of enforcement capacity is aggravated by the adoption of procedures which are cumbersome and time-consuming. There are many cases of builders who take advantage of the incapacity of the enforcement agencies to put up illegal structures, but there are still more builders who become victims of these cumbersome processes and, because of the delays in obtaining a building permit, have to absorb inflationary trends in construction costs.

Public-sector construction in some countries is exempted from enforcement procedures or is, at least, taken for granted as conforming to any expected requirements. It may be argued that, because the enforcement capacity is rather ineffective, the work of public construction is valid, which is not always the case. However, with private-sector construction, there is always a possibility that, once a design has gone through the cumbersome stages of approval, some level of conformity will be achieved. Effective enforcement procedures serve at least one useful purpose - that is, they clarify the legal implications of a disaster or damage, e.g., fault-finding, accountability, identification of who bears the responsibility and takes decisions and what measures to take to correct similar errors in future. With public construction, there are many gaps in such a fault-finding procedure.

The enforcement of building regulations and codes is a two-way process, involving, on the one hand, conformity by the builder and, on the other, conformity by the enforcing authorities themselves. In meeting the objectives of safety, health, and orderly development, building regulations and codes place a responsibility on some public executing agencies, such as the Town Planning Department, City Engineer's Department, Public Health Officer's Department. Water and Sewerage Department and Electricity Department, to carry out certain basic functions. However, the situation in most African countries is that these agencies are not well equipped to meeting their responsibilities and, thus, have a negative impact on safety and health in the built environment.

(c) Buck-up services

Back-up services, in most African countries are either non-existent or even if they exist, they are under-developed. Standards and specifications for building materials production and use, for example are one of the most indispensable features of regulations and codes. In the absence of appropriate standards and specifications for building materials, obviously, most building regulations and codes make reference to foreign standards. Hence, an adverse impact on the promotion of locally-produced and low-cost building materials. This frequent reference to foreign standards has also led to the use of building materials and construction techniques with high import content. In fact, adopting international standards in any African country, for example, for reinforced/pre-stressed concrete or steel structure in a multi-storey building is fully adequate, however, using same standards for the construction of simple houses for low-income population is not relevant and could not be acceptable.

Through a number of international and national efforts over the past decade, in many African countries, there exist some form of national agency responsible for promoting standards for local products. However, such efforts have had little or no impact in promoting standards for local-building materials. In cases where standards for a few local products have been formulated, there is still the problem of how to enforce them effectively and get them eventually incorporated in building regulations and codes. The general pattern in Africa is that a substantial amount of building materials is produced locally, but, in the absence of effective standards to back up production, the end-products are often not meeting the requirements for safety in construction. Low quality of indigenous building materials is a common feature in both the large-scale, and the small-scale sector, but the situation is most prevalent in the latter.

The problem of low quality of production, in this case, goes beyond the lack of locally formulated standards. The main gap is the lack of quality-control procedures to guide production and this includes the lack of access to simple testing facilities and simple tools for weights and measures. A basic material, such as concrete block, is produced in small-scale units using production methods without adhering to quality-control procedures. The product is commonly assumed to be of a requisite standard, and there is as yet no mechanism for controlling this deficiency, even though it could be the single cause of an unsafe construction.

The efforts of building research institutions in promoting the local-building materials through building regulations and codes have also not been very successful. For a number of reasons, useful research findings never get incorporated in regulatory instruments, and there is always a gap between research outputs and their adoption on a wide-scale. Associations of professionals in the construction industry exist in most countries, but they also have not been able to bring about desired changes in building regulations and codes. For instance, it is in the interests of a national association of architects to promote the formulation and adoption of local codes of practice for design, but these professional associations are limited in their capacity to ensure that the day-to-day tools which support the construction industry, such as basic building materials, are available on the market and are obtained at expected levels of quality.

There are a few miscellaneous back-up services which play a vital role in supporting the efficiency of the construction industry and helping to achieve the objectives of building codes and regulations, but these operate inefficiently. For instance, the problem of fire hazards is such that even through they can be well-covered in building regulations and codes, when a disaster inevitably strikes, safety can ultimately only be ensured by an efficient fire service as well as good public education on how to contain such emergencies. In several countries, the efficiency of the fire service cannot be relied upon as a curative measure in case of a fire outbreak. As another example, consumer-rights awareness is, on the whole, underdeveloped in many countries. Consumers are yet to organize themselves into pressure groups to ensure good-quality building materials and to ensure good-quality output from contractors.

(d) Low-income settlements

Probably the single most significant disadvantage of existing regulations and codes is that low-income settlements, comprising rural dwellings and urban-squatter settlements, are completely ignored. In African countries, as in many developing countries, about 70 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, and, in the urban areas, a large proportion of the population lives in slums and uncontrolled settlements which are mushrooming continuously. If the objectives of building regulations and codes are to promote the basic welfare of people, by ensuring safety and health, then when they exclude the interests of the bulk of the population, they are failing in their function. Sometimes, regulations and codes are flexible enough to deal with low-income housing, as long as it is new construction based on conventional principles. However, the predominant problem with low-income settlements concerns the already built-up environment - how to improve on deficient construction techniques, how to make poor quality materials durable and how to provide basic infrastructure and amenities in order to improve the poor's living conditions.

The exclusion of provisions to promote the construction requirements of the low-income population has had undesirable consequences. For instance, the presence of high-cost and import-based building materials and construction techniques which dominate the provisions of existing regulations and codes has had a negative influence on construction practices for the low-income population. In some instances, simple rural dwellings have been constructed in reinforced concrete technology at prohibitive costs as a result of these tendencies.


(a) Conceptual framework

The foregoing section have provided an analysis of the current situation of building codes and regulations and have outlined the major limitations that they face. Bearing in mind the current scenario, it is becoming quite obvious that there is a need to revise/reformulate the existing codes and regulations so as to make them compatible with the overall development objectives in every country. While ensuring safety and health in the built environment is the fundamental objective of the construction process, the basic goal in any revising exercise must be improving the capacity of the indigenous construction sector, so that it can meet the requirements of low-income population. In principle, the revision of building codes and regulations should seek to promote the wide-scale adoption of indigenous building materials and construction techniques.

Given this type of approach to the revision of building regulations and codes, attention should primarily focus on the low-income population. Most existing regulations and codes make little or no reference to the issues of low-income settlements, so that this, in itself, is enough justification to focus attention on this area. However, regulations and codes, in the strict sense, may not be applicable to this target group, because there may have to be a completely pragmatic and innovative approach to satisfying its requirements - possibly the drafting of a “model building code for low-income housing”. In line with this basic concept, it should be borne in mind that the construction practices involving the use of imported materials and techniques, tend to have a negative influence on the low-income population. Hence, it is desirable to revise regulations and codes so as to address the interests of the low-income population.

Development of low-income settlements should fallow guidelines stipulated in building codes and regulations

The basic concept behind existing regulations and codes, which has made them unenforceable, is that they assume a policing role, implying a confrontation between the users of the instruments, on the one hand, and a superior body of controllers of the instruments, on the other. This approach is resource - demanding on the part of the controllers and, even where the resources are available, there is still the possibility of lapses by such a controlling body. Such errors could defeat the overall objectives of the regulatory process in construction.

An alternative to the “policing” concept of regulations and codes is the “counselling” concept. Under the counselling concept, building regulations and codes are intended predominantly to provide guidance and improve the output of the construction industry. This is reflected in the relationship between enforcement agencies and the users of the instruments which is based on cooperation and mutual support rather than on confrontation.

To some extent, the counselling concept provides that the task of enforcement rests more on the users than on the controllers.

Over the short term, adopting a counselling approach will mean that any new set of instruments will have to deal with the constraints of construction manpower, thus requiring a great deal of effort to obtain conformity to good construction practice and to promote the wide-scale adoption of locally-available construction inputs.

This objective can be met by ensuring that the construction team is organized as a self-policing promotional group, so that desired improvements can be brought about in regulations and codes. Similarly, the building materials industry should be developed to provide adequate quantities of basic items and to devise its own mechanisms for ensuring that output is of acceptable quality. Thus revising of building regulations and codes does not end with the rewriting of existing documents on the subject but, going far beyond this activity, implies a total adjustment of all the parameters of the construction industry, so that the objectives of safety, health, and orderly development of the built environment can be met, while, at the same time, fulfilling the construction requirements of the population.

(b) Legal component

Even where building regulations and codes are reformulated to depart from the existing policing approach to a pragmatic counselling approach, the legal component will still play a vital role. A local construction industry may have a competent work-force and a balanced performance of all the various components of the industry, but there is still the possibility of negligence, incompetence or fraud in construction practice, which may lead to disastrous consequences. Legal sanctions against non-conformity can act, as a last resort, as a deterrent against such defects, as well as ensure accountability in case of defect.

Normally, the legal component of Acts regulations and codes, must pass through a complex legislative process before any amendments can be made. However, if Acts are restricted to deal with basic issues, providing only the legislative framework to support the technicalities of regulations and codes, amendments become feasible or, often, unnecessary. Where Acts contain technical elements of the regulations and codes, there is always the problem of conflicts between the non-uniform interpretation of legal issues and the relatively uniform (but frequently changing) interpretation of technical issues. In any reformulation exercise, the legal component should avoid, as much as possible, confusion with technical issues, delegating all such matters to supporting documents - the regulations and codes.

In general, the provisions laid out in Acts are intended to play a preventive role in ensuring safety, health and orderly development in new construction. However, a reformulation exercise offers an opportunity to address issues which are curative of established problems in the built environment. This is a particularly relevant concept in view of the fact that a large proportion of urban dwellers are already living in slums and squatter settlements and that their construction requirements are almost exclusively for remedial measures to improve and upgrade the situation.

(c) Technical component

If building regulations and codes are to be reformulated, with the objective of promoting the wide-scale adoption of locally-available construction-inputs, it is important that technical variables related to the construction inputs are incorporated in them. However, technical variables tend to change at a quick rate, so that their continuous incorporation will require that the technical component be frequently reviewed and amended. Amendments of this nature need to be the responsibility of a single agency but, rather, contributions of ad hoc technical committees or inputs from recognized professional bodies. For example, the design codes can be reviewed periodically by the local professional body of architects. Frequent amendments can be made to the technical components of regulatory instruments because they require minimal effort, can be introduced over a relatively short period of time and, above all, can become operational without the repeated approval of the legislature.

The scope of construction activities to be covered by the technical component of regulatory instruments will vary from country to country, depending primarily on the demands which are made on the construction industry. In general, however, it is desirable that the scope be as comprehensive as possible, bearing in mind that, if a single seemingly unimportant item is ignored, it may defeat the overall objective of ensuring safety and health. Most building regulations and codes cover a limited scope of construction activity, based only on the realities of the era in which they were prepared.

For the purpose of a reformulation exercise, it is important that codes are distinguished from rules and regulations. Building rules or regulations are the predominant means by which the technical aspects of the regulatory process are dealt with. To a large extent, guidance for good construction practice and the basis for conformity to safety, health and orderly development in the built environment depend on codes of practice. For this reason, codes of practice have to be specific to the local construction industry and, above all they have to be as detailed as possible addressing the interests of each participant in the construction process as well as providing for information which is common to the entire construction team.

(d) Enforcement component

The enforcement of regulations and codes has become tantamount to the control or provision of building permits. When formulated regulations and codes are based on the concept of counselling or providing guidance for good construction practice, the task of enforcement goes beyond the issuing of building permits. Building permits, on their own, are important for the enforcement of regulations and codes but, currently, they are administered in a manner that makes them ineffective for attaining safety and orderly development in construction. Also, they can be the greatest source of delay or abandonment of a construction project.

In a reformulation exercise, it is desirable that these constraints be tackled. The difficult process of obtaining a building permit can be simplified: for example, in a single agency system, the designated agency may have to assemble all the information from other agencies which are relevant for the approval of a permit or diversify its resource capabilities in order to be able to handle different aspects of the requirements of the regulations.

In revising building regulations and codes, it is likely that considerable attention will be given to the portion on enforcement and administration, stipulating details such as new requirements for application for and granting of building permits. However, there is a need for certain services or facilities to be physically provided to support or complement new enforcement machinery. For instance, it may be desirable to expand the staff resources of enforcement agencies or even improve the skills of existing manpower. Some of these measures of improvement in the enforcement procedures have to be promoted prior to the redrafting of regulations and codes, so that they can be complied with in the new provisions. One basic task, complementing the revision of building regulations and codes, is to improve the performance of public agencies which play a supporting role in the application of regulations and codes.

(e) Back-up Services

In order to have reformulated regulations and codes make reference to locally-produced building material, standards and specifications must be formulated for a variety of materials, such as soils, concrete blocks, timber components, lime, clay bricks and roofing tiles. Formulation of standards and specifications is, in turn, facilitated by easy access to testing facilities. Particularly for small-scale building materials producers using obsolete production techniques, the promotion of basic quality control procedures will go along way to ensuring that their output conforms to stipulated standards and specifications.

Certain elements of building technology, such as good practice in measurement or the availability of basic tools for weights and measures, can also serve a useful purpose in ensuring conformity to expected requirements in construction. Many errors are committed on site as a result of the lack of apparatus to measure accurately. The concept of standardization of building elements and the principles of modular co-ordination are useful means of achieving uniformity in construction as well as facilitating conformity to stipulated regulation.

Professional bodies or, in general, the construction labour force, can determine what inputs are desirable for building regulations and codes, but it is, first and foremost, important to assign particular responsibilities to such professional groups, sometimes, through seminars and similar informal educational programme, the construction labour force is able to maintain basic standards in performance. Professional bodies can also act as pressure groups to bring about desired changes in regulations and codes.

In revision of building regulations and codes, on its own, cannot bring about improvements, until certain physical adjustments take place within the construction industry. Some of these physical adjustments fall into the category of basic back-up services, and it is important that they be provided before the revision is undertaken. If one of the fundamental objectives of reformulating building regulations and codes is to cut down on imports and ensure the wide-scale adoption of local-building materials, it is imperative that standards be formulated for such local-building materials. Thus, one of the prior tasks before embarking on the drafting/revising of regulations and codes is to ensure that the preferred standards and specifications, which will be frequently referred to in the codes, are ready for incorporation.

(f) Inventory of existing building regulations and codes

In any revising exercise, it is of utmost importance to have a comprehensive inventory of existing building regulations and codes which will form the basis for any new proposals. The task of compiling information and creating an inventory may be taken for granted, but, if it is underestimated, deficiencies which accrue at this stage of the exercise may contribute significantly to the non-success of the whole operation. All documents pertaining to existing building regulations and codes will have to be assembled and reviewed. Unfortunately, in most cases, the documents are not comprehensive and will have to be augmented by extensive field investigation.

The task of preparing an inventory of existing building regulations and codes is very challenging, because it extends to almost every aspect of the construction industry. Information on existing back-up services and the entire enforcement machinery should be collected and reviewed. For example, it is important to have a clear understanding of the building materials situation - what building materials are popularly used in the construction sector; what building materials are commonly referred to in the regulations; what standards are frequently used in the documents; what types of local building materials and construction techniques are intended to be promoted by the newly-formulated codes; what national standards institution is available to formulate and enforce local standards and what is the resource capacity of such an institution.

The extent to which information from other countries can be utilized for the revision exercise should be investigated. In this regard, data may have to be collected from other sources for the purpose of analyzing and applying the results in newly-formulated regulations and codes. Certain aspects of regulations and codes are costly to formulate but, when available, can easily be replicated in different countries. Standards and specifications for some building materials, having typically only technical nature, can easily be transferred from one country and incorporated in the building regulations and codes of another country with little or no amendment. Also, codes of practice, with certain limitations, can be adopted on an international basis. Through these forms of international cooperation at the initial stages of the reformulation programme, there are opportunities for saving time, financial and human resources.

(g) Newly-formulated regulations and codes

In the revision exercise, redrafting should cover the legal component (Acts, by-laws and Ordinances), the technical issues (building regulations and codes of practice), the enforcement and administrative procedures and back-up services. It is desirable for the different components to be drafted as separately as is possible, because they require different skills; however, they may be published in a combined form. The most difficult aspect is the drafting of legal issues, and it is, therefore, an advantage to restrict, as much as possible, all legislative matters to the Acts, by-laws and ordinances.

Where building regulations and codes of practice are devoid of legal issues, their drafting is a relatively straightforward technical task. Nevertheless, this could be a very intricate assignment, because the drafting involves several complex professional disciplines - electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, structural engineering, soil mechanics and a host of other disciplines. The drafting should reflect the mutual dependence of professionals, technicians and apprentices of each of the technical disciplines in the construction industry. This can be a very frustrating experience, if not properly dealt with.

The production of technical documents such as codes of practice, should practically undergo a continuous amendment exercise until such a time that there is uniformity of opinion on the contents between the drafting parties and all other groups, agencies or professionals concerned in one way or the other with enforcing the stipulated requirements. For example, a competent body of mechanical engineers may be responsible for drafting the technical requirements for installations, however, it is desirable that whatever they draft it should be subject of review by a body of architects, to ascertain conformity within design principles; the fire service department, to ensure that the provisions are in line with fire-safety precautions; and the enforcing agencies, to ensure that the requirements could be enforced with available resources. In some instances, the drafting of the technical issues may only be finalized after a period of field trials to evaluate how the contents are interpreted and applied by the local users.

With respect to the legal aspects in Building Acts and Ordinances, documents can only be published and enforced when they have been ratified or at such a time as they can be deemed to have attained full legislative status. Because of this requirement, the drafting of Acts for building regulations should be done within the limitations which legislative processes impose in country. However, the technical components of regulatory instruments, such as codes of practice which act as guides to good construction performance can be enforced after the drafting is completed and without necessarily waiting for any legislative approval.

(h) Institutional arrangements

When a government makes a decision to revise its building regulations and codes, one agency should bear the responsibility for carrying out the operation from the initial stages to the time when the new set of instruments becomes workable. The activities to be undertaken in a revision programme are numerous and, often, almost every single activity is the responsibility of a separate ministry or agency. Sometimes, a seemingly simple activity may fall under the responsibility of two or more agencies. There is no standard approach to revision in terms of institutional arrangements, because it is likely that each country operates with a peculiar pattern of institutions or agencies handling basic activities in the construction sector.

Despite the differences in approach between one country and the next, there are some issues which are basic and of common application. Responsibilities in a programme of reformulation can be separated into permanent and temporary activities, and, accordingly, the institutional arrangements should cater for the two separate activities. The revision of building regulations and codes, once it has been initiated, should be considered a permanent activity. Revision or modification of the reformulated instruments should be done in a continuous manner, so that, at any time, they can incorporate changes.

Past experiences have shown that, this permanent function can be provided either by a ministry, as part of its day-to-day operations, or by a permanent committee made up of representatives from concerned agencies. Whichever option is adopted, it should be kept in mind that bearing the overall responsibility for the revision of regulations and codes is a very challenging assignment for which adequate support and resources should be provided. For instance, a ministry of works and housing could be a popular choice as an agency with the permanent function of revision. However, it can only cope with the extra load and carry out this function effectively if a corresponding expansion programme is carried out in the ministry.

Part of the activities which can be classified as temporary in relation to the reformulation of regulations and codes is the designation of agencies or committees to promote basic back-up services and also to promote certain aspects of the enforcement process. Even though most of these activities should normally be the responsibility of already established ministries in their day-to-day operations, it will require an additional effort for the agencies to function in such a way as to meet the specific objectives of the reformulation programme.

For instance, it may be desirable to assign more than one institution the responsibility for ensuring that a provision for locally-produced building materials is incorporated in newly-formulated codes. This single assignment could involve a building research institute, a standards institution, a geological survey department, a manufacturer's association and a financing institution. Specific tasks could be assigned to each organization, and in each organization a special sub-committee might have to be set up for this purpose. In addition, an inter-agency committee could be temporarily established to provide the desired coordinating function. In India, for example, a special panel was set up with the responsibility for preparing a methodology for implementing the newly-formulated codes on a country-wide basis.

(i) Considerations for low-income settlements

In order to attach greater importance to the improvement of low-income settlements, special provisions will have to be made in the revision of building regulations and codes. In this regard the type of construction requirements of the low-income groups should be reflected in all aspects of regulatory instruments. For example, already built-up slums and squatter settlements have to be upgraded with the objective of ensuring safety, health and orderly development, and of promoting the use of building materials and resources which are affordable by the low-income population. If non-conventional methods of housing delivery, such as self-help and other community-participation methods, are to continue to be the mainstay of low-income housing, regulations and codes should be reformulated to reflect such methods.

With regard to legal component of regulations and codes, it may be desirable to exempt existing built-up of low-income settlements from conventional regulatory procedures. The drafting of technical rules for improving or building low-income shelter may have to be based on field manuals supported by actual demonstration projects. Special back-up services should aim at improving the existing limited construction techniques of the low-income population and improving the means of delivery for non-conventional low-income shelter.

As mentioned earlier, the nature of construction activities in low-income settlements is such that the benefits of building, regulations and codes can only be realized if they are applied in a manner different from those regulating other construction activities. Unless a special effort is made it is likely that the main components of existing instruments - regulations, codes and enforcement procedures - will be reformulated with little or no impact on low-income settlements.

It is possible to have one standard institutional arrangement with the same resource persons handling the reformulation of building regulations and codes for the entire construction sector, but, if this approach is adopted, special provisions will have to be made to respond to the peculiar needs of low-income settlements. Alternatively, a separate institutional mechanism could be set up, with the responsibility for preparing regulations and codes solely for low-income settlements. This will require a different methodology and different terms of reference, probably involving a different set of ministries or agencies and, above all, requiring specialized skills and resources.

Houses constructed with stabilized soil blocks - Nazareth, Ethiopia

One important task that should be fulfilled is for the regulations and codes to reflect the fact that, for most of the low-income population, construction requirements will continue to be met by already-built dwellings. Also, the resource personnel drafting new instruments for low-income settlements should bear in mind that the majority of the builders in low-income settlements do not possess formal skills in construction and that, if they are to be provided guidance in good construction practice, this will require a special technique in the drafting of codes, preferably supported by wide-scale demonstration projects.


On the basis of previous discussions it can be concluded that the existing regulatory devices of the construction sector in most African countries do not meet the requirements of the bulk of population. They are socially divisive, are oriented towards urban with less focus on rural development, do not effectively reflect national development priorities or the needs of low-income populations, require skills and materials that are unavailable. They also tend to depress the quality of life of those who cannot comply with the enacted standards. Therefore, an attempt has been made, in this paper, to summarize and compile a list of issues in order to draw the attention of decision-makers and professionals to some of the critical areas of concern. The list is not exhaustive, and it may be modified. It is however hoped that clarification of some of the points mentioned below will provide insights into appropriate national and international action that can be taken in the field of building regulations and codes.

(a) Economic and social aspects

(1) How can codes and regulations be made consistent and compatible with national development goals, especially national housing and urban development policies that pertain to low-income populations and that seek to achieve such objectives as employment creation, increased construction sector activities?

(2) How can building regulations address the needs of all groups of the population while simultaneously adhering to standards of equality of treatment?

(3) How should codes and regulations support and encourage shelter and infrastructure rehabilitation programmes and strengthen relationships between the formal and informal sectors of the economy? What should be the nature of this interaction? How can capacities of the informal sector be strengthened through appropriate codes and regulations?

(4) What incentives could be provided to encourage people to comply with the requirements of codes and regulations?

(5) Should building codes be designed to deal with problems and conditions of geographic areas or of groups of the population regardless of location? Should emphasis be placed on socio-economic or physical conditions? What kind of institutional mechanisms is required to deal with basic human needs comprehensively and in conjunction with codes and regulations? How can fundamental needs, e.g. basic infrastructural services be effectively satisfied by means of requirements in codes and regulations when resources are scarce?

(6) What are the major constraints that affect the development of innovative standards to improve the low-cost construction outputs?

(7) What are the values that should be incorporated into code formulation and standard setting and how are these qualitative aspects determined? What measures should be taken to ensure that the establishment of standards acceptable to the poor will not lead to the creation of substandard housing conditions?

(8) How can the use of professional expertise be harmonized with the need to base codes on requirements and priorities determined by the people directly concerned? What should be the respective roles of public authorities and local residents?

(9) How can codes and regulations balance the need to arrest housing decay and deterioration in high density areas with the requirement that such areas should continue to house the poorer residents? What are the levels of acceptability of substandard housing based on codes and regulations?

(10) What are the factors and services that are important to health in the built environment? Are significant innovations needed to make them affordable in low-income settlements? How can research support changes in traditional public health legislation?

(b) Technical and qualitative aspects

(1) What types of data, including scientific and empirical knowledge, are needed to formulate, revise and enforce codes? Can these data be obtained and assembled, and at what cost? How should code revision proceed? How can the performance of existing codes be monitored and modified?

(2) What should a building code cover so as to relate it with other public regulations governing the built environment?

(3) How can codes and regulations balance the need to develop appropriate technology and an indigenous construction industry? How can they meet the need for construction activities which require specialized skills and sophisticated technology and which only multinational construction firms can undertake? How should codes balance environmental and conservation concerns with the increased use of local materials and renewable resources?

(4) How can quality standards, technical specifications and regulations which are appropriate in the formal sector take into account the non-conventional construction activities that are carried out in the informal sector with little capital and simple tools?

(5) How can cost-effective testing techniques be devised to control quality compliance with code requirements? How and where should testing be performed? Who should pay for it? How can relevant testing and research information be incorporated into the code? How can relevant testing and research information be incorporated into the code? How can research and testing methodologies appropriate to prevailing circumstances in poor countries be developed? How can standards and specifications be produced for traditional materials?

(6) How should the maintenance of low-income shelter and basic infrastructure be dealt with in codes and regulations?

(7) To what degree should codes and regulations facilitate the improvement of the performance of construction activities for the benefit of low-income settlements so that such settlements need not follow the high-energy-use patterns of developed countries?

(8) What should be the minimum requirements for structural safety and durability of low-cost shelter to be stipulated in building codes and regulations?

(c) Legal, administrative and financial aspects

(1) What types of institutions should be established or called upon to assist in the formulation and/or revision of codes and regulations? What should be the role of private professional organizations, public administrators, etc., in this process?

(2) Is it possible or advisable to formulate comprehensive codes, i.e. codes that include statutory regulations governing buildings, public health and land planning? How should codes address the differences between urban and rural conditions? How should geographical differences be addressed?

(3) What criteria should be used in evaluating codes? Manageability? Enforceability? Sustainability to conditions and resources?

(4) How should codes and regulations be used to bring about desired land-use patterns such as the clustering of income-generating activities in order to rationalize facility distribution systems, access to credit, etc.? How should codes and regulations deal with informal-sector?

(5) How can codes and regulations coordinate solutions to sectoral problems?

(6) How should codes be conceived to ensure that they lead to regulatory efficiency and at the same time lend themselves to revision in order to reflect changing priorities and different low-income settlement conditions and construction practices?

(7) What types of institutional obstacles lie in the process of code revision and the formulation of new codes? How should these obstacles be dealt with and what practical approaches are required to encourage long lasting changes?

(8) If rural areas are to be the subject of codes different from those applied in urban areas, what types of codes and enforcement procedures should be adopted? What special methods should be applied in order to use codes as instruments for development? How can compliance with codes be dealt with? Which authority should enforce such codes? What special assistance would be required to enforce codes and how would enforcement be financed? How should codes promote the use of appropriate technologies for rural areas?

(9) Should lending institutions follow a policy of cost recovery for all investments in low-income settlements? How can the need for cost recovery be harmonized with public efforts to cross-subsidize the needs of the poor? What would be the role of codes and regulations in this respect?

(10) How can codes regulate the upgrading of low-income settlements if improvement programmes are financed by non-traditional sources?

(11) How do financial institutions influence and initiate changes in codes? Who should establish criteria for requirements established by financial institutions?

(12) In view of the fact that the control exercised by public health authorities is often arbitrary and inappropriate to the real needs and priorities of the urban poor, how can codes ensure that the relationship between housing and health is dealt with adequately?

(d) Information and training aspects

(1) What are the key aspects of codes and regulations that ought to be disseminated, and how can information be conveyed most effectively to various groups of the urban and rural population?

(2) What special programmes would be needed to ensure that codes and regulations are adequately interpreted and complied with in low-income settlements? What incentives would lead to compliance? How should information on finance and land tenure be introduced and disseminated?

(3) What kind of special training programmes would be required to upgrade the skills of artisans so that they could contribute to the gradual upgrading of construction standards?

(4) How can a direct and continuous flow of information on codes and regulations to finance agencies be ensured? What kind of information should be transmitted to finance agencies?

(5) How can the training of skilled craftsmen be effectively related to code requirements? How can codes stimulate the improvement of skills? What incentives are needed to motivate workers to upgrade their skills.

(6) Which aspects of codes and regulations should higher education institutions include in their curricula? Should this occur only where a coherent code system has been instituted?

(7) What is the best publication format for presenting codes to the general population so that they are accessible, inexpensive, understandable and practical? Should building codes also serve as a form of training manual on building techniques?

(8) How should the subject of standards, especially those relating to the needs of low-income populations, be treated in professional education programmes for architects and engineers?

Kenya: Building Standards and Planning Regulations - The Kenyan Experience**

** By: Elijah Agevi, Coordinator, Shelter Forum, Nairobi, Kenya.


Early this century, a British colonial administrator in Nairobi, Kenya's capital, decided that the city needed a set of by-laws. A native of the Lancashire town of Blackburn, the resourceful civil servant wrote home requesting for a copy of the by-laws in use there. “Copy these out just as they are,” he directed a typist, adding “except whenever you see the word 'Blackburn', type 'Nairobi'”. Thus Nairobi acquired its first by-laws.

Apparently no one found much fault with these regulations even though tropical Nairobi - less than 200 kilometres from the equator - rarely has its temperature of 15$C, in summer or winter, while the residents of Blackburn have to endure with weeks, if not months, of below-freezing temperatures, harsh winter winds, snow, etc. Not until the 1970s was it pointed out that Nairobi roofs need not be strong enough to withstand six inches of snow!

Obviously, these imported regulations must have served the colonial settlers well then as they were based on the British concept of what constituted a satisfactory dwelling, which was largely influenced by the environment and climate back home.

Kenya has changed a great deal since then. But even though the colonial administrators quited more than 30 years ago, the building by-laws, standards and planning regulations have remained pretty much the same. No so with the country's population which at one point grew at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent - the highest in the world - nor the urban population, expanding at 8 per cent.

Nairobi and other major towns in the country have borne the brunt of this increase in humanity. Population growth and rising immigration from the rural areas, combined with increased unemployment, means that most people looking for housing and shelter in these urban centres are poor. Most end up in established informal settlement areas where they have increasingly encroached on public and private land. Today, informal settlements in Nairobi accommodate more than 70 per cent of the city's population on a meagre 6 per cent of the entire residential land area. The density in these settlements averages 750 persons per hectare, compared with 50 to 180 persons in the middle- and upper-income areas.

Therefore, even if the urban poor have the time to grapple with the tangle web of building regulations, they would have little hope of getting enough land to satisfy even the minimum plot requirements. And even if they are lucky enough to acquire the land, they are unable to afford the water, sewerage and electricity connections, let alone the materials required to make three-inch thick concrete floors and nine-inch thick walls throughout.

Various studies have revealed that, the current building by-laws, standards and planning regulations do not fully meet the construction requirements of urban poor. Although somewhat relaxed, the by-laws are still rather rigid and high so that their application has continuously accentuated the situation of affordable urban housing in Kenya.

There is, indeed, a consensus that the prevailing building norms and standards are obsolete and outmoded and, therefore, irresponsive to the contemporary urban shelter needs.

Mabogunje aptly sums up this situation by saying:

“Standards in developing countries tend to serve more as a means of social satisfaction than as a means of reconciling the shelter needs of the population with the maintenance of a reasonable level of environmental quality. They are so unrealistic that they are deservedly ignored by the majority of people in their efforts to solve their own shelter needs”.

Not surprisingly, the result is that more than half of Kenya's urban population live in settlements which do not conform with the official standards, norms and regulations. Clearly, there is need for innovative solutions to meet the annual 90,000 units of housing stock in urban areas. One obvious way is to redefine the building and planning regime to meet the needs of the majority of people with limited resources.


The application of building controls followed the colonial development of urban areas. The earliest attempts to introduce legislation related to building or planning in colonial Kenya can be traced to around 1900 when surveyors started planning camps and townships along the Kenya-Uganda railway, then under construction.

Nairobi, then a strategic camp along the line, was initially surveyed and planned by ex-military personnel working for the railway. However, it was not until 1926 that the Nairobi Municipal Council introduced its first comprehensive set of building and planning regulations. By then only Mombasa had some by-laws related to building. Introduction of various public health and building controls are linked to the development of towns such as Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret. These regulations formed the basis of norms adopted by local authorities administering smaller urban centres.

Today's building, planning and engineering standards, statutes and regulations are scattered in various legal documents, including town planning, land and housing laws, the Public Health Act and the Local Government Adoptive By-Laws. This situation is compounded by the fact that there are a host of government agencies responsible for policy, legislation, enforcement, and control of housing. The resultant confusion means that the existing statutes are, in some instances, contradictory.

The main statutes governing building standards, design and materials today are; the Building Code and the Public Health Act. Other statutes affecting housing development are listed in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Legislation Having Impact on Housing Development

The Building Code, 1968, consisting of Local Government (Adoptive By-Laws) (Building) Order, 1968, and Local Government (Adoptive By-Laws) (Grade II Building) Order, 1968.

The Public Health Act Cap. 242, of 1972

The Housing Act, Cap. 177 of 1953

The Rent Restriction Act, Cap. 296, of 1959

The Landlord and Tenant (Shops, Hotels and Catering Establishment) Act, Cap. 301 of 1965

The Local Government Act, Cap 265 of 1977

The Land Control Act, Cap. 302 of 1967

The Streets Adoption Act, Cap. 406 of 1963

The Water Act, Cap. 372

Fire Inquiry Act, Cap. 103

The Land Acquisition Act, Cap. 295 of 1968

The Registered Land Act, Cap. 300 of 1963

The Guarantee (Loans) Act, Cap. 461, of 1966

The Sectional Properties Act. 1987

The Land Planning Act, Cap. 303, 1968

Of all these laws, the Public Health Act is, arguably, the most far-reaching in respect to the latitude it enjoys over building. For instance, the Minister of Local Government can only approve by-laws proposed by a local authority with the agreement of the Minister of Health. The powers contained in the Public Health Act also constitute the outstanding conflict between building legislation and the production of low-cost housing utilizing appropriate building materials and techniques.

It is important to note that the Act is specific on, inter alia, areas such as construction and materials to be used; space around buildings, lighting and ventilation of buildings, and sizes of rooms to be used for human habitation; repairs or demolition of unsafe, dilapidated or dangerous buildings, etc.

On the other hand, local authorities are empowered by sections of the Public Health and Local Government Acts to enact or make their own building by-laws or planning regulations.


Building acts, regulations and codes are the means by which authorities control construction activities for the purpose of ensuring safety and health in the built environment.

They, are, therefore, critical to all construction activities, particularly for low-income shelter where a single effort involving these procedures could lead to significant improvements. For instance, regulations and codes could be formulated for the construction of low-income settlements, incorporating types of building materials and construction techniques which are affordable to low-income groups.

Despite the critical role these laws play in the day-to-day lives of the majority of urban dwellers, the latter hardly participate in their formulation and implementation (see table 2). Obviously, the interests of the low-income population hardly matter if the highest standards are to be formulated! But the reality is that 40 to 70 per cent of urban dwellers in Kenya live in informal settlements where a substantial proportion of the construction depends on earth, timber-based products and other locally-available materials.

Local by-laws do not sufficiently cater for use of locally-based affordable materials for particular circumstances and emergencies prevalent in these settlements. They are, intact, specific on use of modern materials and techniques - cement and mortar, steel, electrical and mechanical installations - which are mainly for middle and high-income shelter, commercial or industrial developments. These are only affordable to a minority of the population. The result is very high building standards that are unaffordable by the majority of the low-income urban dwellers, giving rise to rapid growth of squatters and slums on public or private land, contravening the land-use controls and similar laws.

The volume of relevant legislation (see table 1) is also particularly confusing to developers and is compounded by the frustration caused by personal interpretations of these statutes as witnessed in several projects in Dandora and Umoja estates in Nairobi. Housing development is consequently complicated and sometimes made more costly by the difficulties in obtaining the necessary permission, particularly for low-cost housing. This scenario has made interpretation and application of these legislation slow, cumbersome and expensive. The situation is worsened by the many public, quasi-public and private-sector groups that have vested and, occasionally, conflicting interests in the implementation of these standards.

This nature of existing official standards and norms means that they are seriously considered by only a small proportion of developers. For the majority, the standards and regulations are unfortunately not fully applicable. This renders them inadequate and irrelevant to community needs and aspirations, particularly to residents in unauthorized and low-cost shelter settlements.


Kenyan authorities have been aware of the inappropriateness of the building regulations to the majority of the population. Concerns over the existing building regime in independent Kenya were raised in the 1960s, when it became obvious that there was need for a critical appraisal of all legislation affecting human settlements in order to conform with current socio-political and economic trends.

Table 2. Agencies Responsible for Formulation and Enforcement of Residential Standards







Housing Department










Ministry of Health





Commissioner of Lands




COL uses both statutory & contractual measures






Local Authority





KP & L Co Ltd.


Water Authority




AG's Chambers




Provincial Admin/Chief


Chief may be used by LA to enforce

Lending Institutions






Labour Department




Architects/Engineers & Designers


Bureau of Standards






Donor Agencies





Kenya Low-Income Housing By-Lay Study, Vol. 2


Public Measure


Quasi Government & private measures


Commissioner of Lands

KP & L CO. Ltd.,

Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd.,


Central Organization of Trade Unions

After independence in 1963, a new building legislation was prepared with the objective of providing regulations compatible with the needs, as seen then, of the country. The objective of the building code, which comprised the “Grade I” and “Grade II” Building Orders of 1968, was to produce permissive legislation which would enable experimentation and new ideas to be developed. In particular, the Grade II By-Laws were designed to enable the inhabitants of the agricultural peri-urban areas of municipalities to satisfy the building control requirements, but in a non-urban context.

Inspite of this new building code, the need, purpose and advantages for reformulating planning, building and infrastructural legislation and regulations was felt necessary. But a further review of the legislation was not a priority for the government, not even in the face of ample empirical evidence on the advantages of adopting appropriate standards especially in the provision of low-cost housing. Not until the 1970s, when the government undertook construction of mass housing schemes in major urban centres, (such as Dandora “I” estate in Nairobi) it became clear that houses will be unaffordable to the target groups unless certain changes were effected in the regulations.

In 1979, the government commissioned a major Low-Cost Housing By-laws Review Study, an action which placed Kenya on record as among the first Third World countries to undertake a comprehensive study of building by-Laws and regulations. The purpose of the study was to analyze and evaluate the performance of the existing building-control system and to develop measures to enhance its efficiency.

The study recommended specific measures to enhance efficient and rational urban development with particular emphasis on low-cost housing. It further recommended changes to the existing building code and the Public Health Act with a view to make them compatible with the needs of majority. It appeared that there was a consensus that the standards for low-cost housing had to be modified to make them applicable.

In the mid 1980s, an inter-ministerial and multi-disciplinary committee was constituted to devise ways and means to implement the now five-year old recommendations. The team successfully sought government approval to have those guidelines which do not require legislative changes adopted immediately. The government also supported entire revision of the building code and establishment of a central technical committee to coordinate and regularly monitor the performance of all building by-laws. Approval for legislative action on the building code was given, and the Ministers for Works, Housing and Physical Planning; Health; and Local Government, together with the Attorney General, urged the implementation of by-laws immediately. Unfortunately, even with Cabinet approval, none of the recommendations from the Low-Income Housing By-laws Review were implemented.

In the meantime, other significant efforts were being undertaken in the review process. These included a Town Planning Handbook produced by the Physical Planning Department and research publications by the Housing Research and Development Unit (HRDU), University of Nairobi. Encouraging milestones were also marked by the Nairobi City Commission's adoption of Planning Standards in 1988 and adoption of lower planning and building standards by major municipalities like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret and Nakuru a few years later. But these were applied on an ad-hoc basis.

In 1990, a national seminar was held in Nairobi to highlight constraints to the implementation of the 1985 recommendations, and to formulate strategies to resolve them. The seminar had the objective of formulating a plan of action that would identify and recommend policy, administrative, legal, institutional and technical action. This led to the formation of a Task Force - under the leadership of the Ministry of Lands and Housing - to oversee and update the 1985 recommendations. It was also expected to prepare terms of reference for a Permanent Commission on building by-laws. The Task Force started its work with vigour but, unfortunately, again, the process was slowed down because of financial constraints.

While all members of the Task Force agreed about the need to update the regulations, not all agreed on the extent to which the rules should be changed. Some members from institutes or NGOs which had worked with grassroots communities and were more in touch with the reality of the situation were unable to persuade planners for the need to change. This group proposed that the members actually visit some of the informal settlements to research on what was really happening. Plans were devised to visit settlements in major and secondary towns, but financial constraints limited the trips only for Nairobi.

This strategy proved to be the key and was enough to convert the sceptics, who were amazed at how people were building and what they were building with. The members measured people's plots and the sizes of their rooms; they measured the thickness of the walls, and noted the materials used for both walls and roofs, and the water and sanitation facilities available; and counted the number of people living in each house.

This first-hand, eye-opening encounter with reality finally convinced the entire team that what was needed were not scaled-down standards with prescribed materials that everyone should build with, but minimum standards that everyone could start with. The standards had to be related to the performance of the materials used, without excluding the ready materials that most people used. They had to allow people to start with a very basic structure, and to build and add on as and when they wanted to and could afford to.

In 1992, funds were sought and consultants engaged to work with a reduced technical committee under the general guidance of the Task Force. The team presented a report containing standards that were flexible and enabled the use of inexpensive building materials and techniques, and affordable infrastructure and services. The report also contained a comprehensive dissemination strategy, and highlighted the changes that would not require legislative amendments and could be put to action immediately. Refined plans for the formation of a Permanent Board for updating building and planning standards on a continuous basis were also included.

“Code 92”, a set of amendments to the building code as applicable to low-cost housing, and a manual of “deemed to satisfy solutions”, were published in 1993 and disseminated to particularly local authorities. The revised by-laws were finally gazetted by the Minister for Local Government in 1995.


More than a year since the revised by-laws were gazetted, few local authorities have actually adopted and implemented the regulations. However, some local authorities have already taken a liberal and enabling stand on the revised building by-laws and regulations. The local authorities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Voi, Nyahururu and Eldoret are some of the ones positively disposed towards the relaxed building standards. Supporting agencies include the National Housing Corporation, National Housing Cooperative Union (NACHU), the World Bank, USAID, GTZ and individual housing cooperative societies. NACHU-supported projects in Nairobi and Mombasa have also promoted use of lower building and planning standards, while lower standards have been applied in low-income city estates such as Umoja I and II, Dandora and Koma Rock.

Even where this has been done, implementation of reformulated or relaxed standards has been on ad hoc, and project-by-project basis and has only been achieved after costly and lengthy discussion. This has been partly attributable to poor information flow: lack of general institutional support at both local and national levels; inadequate resources; and administrative rigidities.

This trend has shown that the challenge of reformulating the building regime does not merely end with its official recognition. An effective dissemination strategy is currently in place to sensitise local authorities and the general public on the potential benefits that can be derived from applying the revised by-laws. The strategy includes organization of workshops for civic leaders, trainers and community-based leaders; and vigorous publicity through publications and the national media.


Inspite of the progress made in reformulating building regulations and standards, there is still need for a practical plan of action regarding implementation of the revised codes. Like in many other developing countries, the review process of building and planning regulations has been slow. The bitter lessons from this experience is that only limited success will be achieved if inconsistent methodology - which does not facilitate meaningful and effective local level participation - is applied. Revising planning, building and engineering standards must lap the locally-available appropriate resources, social values and environmental factors if they are to be accepted. The formulation process must also involve those on whom the decisions will impact on.

It is also clear that the lack of a single, and central authority to oversee the formulation and implementation process was largely responsible for the slow progress. A properly mandated organ is a must if the institutional inter-dependency evident in the review process is to be avoided. This calls for the establishment of a permanent, multi-disciplinary team comprising members from the public, parastatals and private sectors to provide the necessary administrative, legal and technical expertise needed for successful implementation of a revised building regime.

Finally, it should be noted that there is a need for a fully revised and practically implementable Building Code with various grades of standards (Grade, I, II and III). The consolidation of all the currently scattered building, planning and engineering statutes and regulations related to housing development will also streamline the policy, legislation, enforcement, and control of housing.

Tanzania: Sustainability of Building Materials Supply in Dar es Salaam***

*** By J. Mamiro, National Construction Council, Dar es Salaam

The National Construction Council is a Parastatal organization with the mission of promoting the development of the construction industry in the United Republic of Tanzania. Among the functions of the Council is to promote the use of locally-produced construction materials.


Building materials play an important role in the provision of shelter. It is estimated that building materials account for more than 60 per cent of the total building cost, therefore, the provision of affordable building materials specially for the rapidly growing urban population cannot be overemphasized. The supply of industrial building materials like cement, iron sheets, etc., does not meet the demand any more and the need to develop and use other locally-available materials is increasingly being felt countrywide.

In the United Republic of Tanzania, use of alternative materials like stabilized soils blocks, lime, bamboo, etc., is still very limited. In an effort to promote the use of locally-produced materials, the National Construction Council has developed a database on the production and use of building materials, costs and research activities and findings associated with building materials. Although information on the production technologies for alternative materials is available, more effort is needed to disseminate it and make the materials acceptable to the target groups.

This paper looks at the present levels of supply of materials in Dar es Salaam, the sustainability of the supplies and options for alternative materials.


Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania with an estimated population of 2,000,000 people. The city which is also the main commercial centre has been growing rapidly in terms of population. The growth rate is estimated at 4.8 per cent per year. The rapid urbanization which is a typical characteristic of most of the towns in Tanzania has an adverse effect on the availability of essential services including housing.

Furthermore, the increase in cost of living makes housing and other related services unaffordable to the low and middle-income population. Another negative impact emanating from urbanization is environmental degradation due to overcrowding and lack of infrastructural facilities.

The major building materials available in Dar es Salaam include - stones, aggregate, sand, timber, soils, cement, lime, corrugated-iron sheets, roofing tiles, and thatch for roofing. Despite the long list of materials available, the commonly used materials are sand cement blocks for walling, cement for binding and iron sheets for roofing.

As it can be seen from the above table, the cost of cement - which is the most crucial and basic building material - has increased by 43 per cent between 1993 and 1994. Hence, inability of low-income population to build their houses using such an important material. The situation of low-income people is more desperate due to the fact that they cannot even afford to use lime. The cost of lime has increased five - fold between 1993 and 1994.

Table 1. Price of selected materials in Dar es Salaam



Price (TSHS)

June 93

Sept. 93

Dec. 93

March 94

June 94

Sept. 94

















Timber (soft)









50 kg















25 kg







Manufacture of hallow blocks (Sand Cement) - Mtambo Blocks Company, Dar es Salaam


The type of stone found in Dar es Salaam is mainly limestone. There are reserves in Kunduchi, Boko, Bunju, Mjimwema and Mbwamaji. Mining is done by both licensed and unlicensed (informal) miners.

There are 60 licensed miners operating in Dar es Salaam. The total production of aggregate and stone from the licensed mines is as follows:

Table 2. Stone and aggregate production in Dar es Salaam (licensed producers)











Source: Zonal Mines Office, Dar es Salaam

In addition to licensed miners there are a number of unlicensed miners estimated at between 1000 to 1500. These are hand-diggers operating mostly from old mines and other restricted areas. The cost of aggregate produced by hand is half of that produced by crushers.

However, the quality is not guaranteed with respect to size and hardness. Most of the stones used for hand crushing are soft and as a result a lot of dust is included in the aggregate. The estimated production of this group is as follows.

Table 3. Stone and aggregate production by unlicensed miners











Source: Zonal Mines Office, Dar es Salaam

Stones are used mainly in floor construction as hard core. Apart from the use of stone for cladding walls, there is very little use of stone in masonry. Although there are no records available on the size of stone and sand reserves, there are indications that these reserves will not last for long.

The city of Dar es Salaam is expanding rapidly and most of the mines which used to be far away from residential areas are now surrounded by houses. In Kunduchi area where most of the stone and aggregate is mined, it is no longer allowed to blast using dynamite because of the proximity of the mines to sensitive buildings and services. This makes the supply of this material very expensive because digging has to be done using mechanical means.


Sand is another major building material used in Dar es Salaam. There are two sources of sand in Dar es Salaam. River sand which is recovered from rivers and quarry sand. The major sand deposits are located in - Mpiji River, Chamazi, Mbande, Tuangoma, Kitunda, Kipunguni, Majohi, and Pugu Mwakanga.

Like stones and aggregates, sand is also mined by both licensed and unlicensed miners. There are 20 licensed sand miners in Dar es Salaam. The total production from these mines is as follows:

Table 4. Production of sand from licensed mines











Source: Zonal Mines Office, Dar es Salaam

The number of unlicensed miners is estimated at 200. The total production by the unlicensed miners is as follows:

Table 5. Production of sand by unlicensed miners











Source: Zonal Mines Office, Dar es Salaam

Sand is used mainly in the production of sand cement blocks. Production of these blocks is done by both large-scale producers, small-scale producers, and individual developers on construction sites. The quality of these blocks vary depending on the producer. The sand cement blocks are used mainly by the middle and high-income groups.


Poles are supplied mainly from natural forests in neighbouring regions while sawn timber is supplied mainly from plantations in Iringa, Mbeya, Mtwara and other regions.

Timber is used mainly in pole and mud construction. It is estimated that 45 per cent of houses in urban centres are constructed with pole and mud. These houses are found mainly in the unplanned outskirts of the city. The life span of these houses is estimated at 5 to 7 years. This makes it very uneconomical. There is a need to improve the technology of pole and mud construction.

Small scale production of Sand Cement blocks - Mtambo Blocks Company, Dar es Salaam

The supply of timber to Dar es Salaam for the past five years is shown in 6 table below.

Table 6. Timber supply for Dar es Salaam







Logs m3

Sawn timber m3

Sawn timber m3

Sawn timber m3































Source: City Natural Resources Office, Dar es Salaam

The figure for poles represent poles supplied through licensed dealers only. This figure can be much higher if individual suppliers are included.


Soil is a building material which is yet to be fully utilized in Dar es Salaam. Apart from being used in raw form to fill in mud and pole houses, soil finds very little use in housing. Due to the ever increasing prices of the industrial building materials and the decreasing supply of cement this trend has to change.

Good quality clay is available at Kisarawe in Dar es Salaam. The only clay brick and tile factory situated in Kisarawe has topped production. As a result there are no burnt bricks or clay tiles in Dar es Salaam. Soil stabilization using cement, lime, pozzolana, etc., could also be employed in production of blocks.


Most of the cement used in Dar es Salaam is supplied from the Wazo Hill Factory. Cement is the major binder used in housing construction in Dar es Salaam. However, the price of cement is high and not affordable to the low income population. The supply of cement has also been dropping due to production problems. For the past 4 years the supply of cement to Dar es Salaam has been as follows.

Small scale production of concrete roofing tiles - locally fabricated production machine. Femara Company, Dar es Salaam

Table 7. Supply of cement to Dar es Salaam











Source: Saruji Corporation, Dar es Salaam

As can be seen, there is a decrease in the supply of cement and the situation will probably remain unchanged for the years to come.


Lime is produced at a very small-scale in Dar es Salaam. Although the raw material for lime is abundant, the use of lime in construction is not popular. Surprisingly, the price of lime is higher than the price of cement. This is mainly due to inefficient production methods. Lime could be used to supplement cement in most of the housing construction being carried out in Dar es Salaam if improved production technologies could be employed to reduce its cost.


The supply of factory made roofing materials in Dar es Salaam is adequate and it seems that supply and demand balance each other. The high prices of these materials may be a contributing factor. The most common factory made roofing material in Dar es Salaam is iron sheets. These are produced by the Aluminium Africa Company. The prices of these corrugated iron sheets has been going up and the sheets are now becoming unaffordable to the low-income segment of population.

Another roofing material in use is concrete tiles. There are three tile factories in Dar es Salaam. These type of tiles are mostly used by the high-income group.

The use of fibre reinforced roofing sheets and tiles is not yet very popular although there are a number of small-scale producers. However, for the low-income population the thatch is still the main roofing material.


The supply of building materials in Dar es Salaam is associated with adverse environmental problems. The extraction of aggregate especially by the unlicensed miners is damaging the environment. Moreover, the mines which are extended to restricted areas such as roads, power lines, and water pipes pose a danger to these lifelines.

Similarly, extraction of sand is contributing greatly to environmental degradation. Surveys made recently show extensive mining of sand in unauthorized areas. The effect of the illegal mining is the destruction of river beds thus prohibiting the flow of sand to the ocean which is causing beach erosion currently taking place. Illegal miners also extract sand from pits in residential and commercial areas, a practice which leaves big unplanned pits in the areas, thus, posing a danger to already existing buildings and infrastructure.


The sustainability of building materials supply to urban centres will depend very much on the production and use of alternative materials. Considerable research has been carried out in this sector, however, what remains to be done is the dissemination of information to the end users. Furthermore, over dependency on industrial materials such as cement, corrugated-iron sheets etc., should be avoided so as to increase the use of locally-produced materials.

Environmental impact assessment should also be taken into consideration seriously when deciding on materials to be promoted.


1. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 (Nairobi, 1991) (HS/266/91E).

2. Tanzania Sensa 1988 - Preliminary report.

3. Jill, W. and others. Links between Population, Settlements, and the Environment: The provision of organic materials for shelter. South Bank University, London 1994.

4. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. (Habitat), The use of selected indigenous building materials with potential for wide applications in developing countries, Nairobi 1985.

5. Roland, S. and others. Appropriate Building Materials, A catalogue of Potential Solutions St. Gallen, May 1988.


Regional Workshop on urban poverty and governance in Southern and Eastern Africa, 14-16 March 1996, Nairobi

African countries are rapidly urbanizing, and it is envisaged that most sub-Saharan African countries will be over 50 per cent urban by the year 2010. The rapidly increasing pressure on urban areas is causing considerable strain on towns and cities in terms of the need to expand and create new infrastructure, provide basic social services and create employment. The demand in each area far outstrips the supply, while the majority of the young school leavers are streaming to the main towns in search of employment.

UNCHS (Habitat) and the Ford Foundation consider poverty reduction and promotion of social equity key priorities for development. In terms of technical cooperation with developing countries, this translates into support to municipal government, community upgrading activities, research, policy advocacy and seminars. The main objective is capacity building at national municipal levels. As a part of these efforts, the Regional Workshop on Urban Poverty and Governance in Southern and Eastern Africa was held at UNCHS (Habitat) headquarters in Gigiri from 14 to 16 March 1995.

The Habitat workshop was an important input into the ongoing programming of the two agencies, the ongoing preparations for Habitat II and the development of a regional agenda for urban poverty reduction and governance. Participants from the World Bank's Municipal Development Programme (Southern and Eastern Africa module) had attended the workshop, which was intended to help them cooperate and complement each other's efforts.

This regional workshop was in tact the culmination of a programme of research and national workshop held in the following countries.

· Botswana
· Ethiopia
· Kenya
· Lesotho
· Malawi
· Mozambique
· Namibia
· South Africa
· Uganda
· United Republic of Tanzania
· Zambia
· Zimbambe

The regional programme is supported by the Ford Foundation, which has provided the bulk of the funding for activities. The programme is managed at UNCHS (Habitat) as part of the Urban Management Programme (UMP), which is a ten-year global technical cooperation programme designed to strengthen the contribution that cities and towns in developing countries make towards human development - including economic growth, social development and poverty reduction. It is a partnership of UNCHS (Habitat), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Programme's activities in Africa are coordinated from the regional office in Accra, Ghana.

Meeting of the African Ministers to prepare for Habitat II, Kampala, Uganda, 27-28 February 1995.

Her Excellency, Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President of Uganda and Minister for Gender and Community Development, delivered the inaugural address to the sub regional meeting for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa on the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements - Habitat II. The meeting in Kampala is one of a series being organized to mobilize national preparations for Habitat II and to bring fresh ideas, intellectual analysis and lessons from national and local experiences into the deliberations of the conference which will be held in Istanbul in June 1996.

Fourteen African delegations, nine headed by Ministers, heard the Vice-President of the host country call upon Africa countries to cast aside the “beggar mentality” and chart a path to their own solutions for shelter and human settlements.

“For too long Africa has been at the receiving end of ideas. We must initiate ideas on all fields of human endeavour. We should know our conditions and circumstances best because we live here,” the Vice-President declared.

Noting that the themes of the Habitat II Conference are adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world, the Vice-President said, “The phenomenon of homelessness is widespread in the world and each community and region must address it in their own way in response to their political, cultural and socio-economic conditions”.

The Vice-President stressed that given the fact that the vast majority of Africans live in rural areas, it was important that an appropriate balance be achieved between development efforts in rural areas and those in urban areas.

The meeting was also addressed by the third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Dr. E.T.S. Adriko, who thanked the representatives from various bilateral and multilateral agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations who were attending the meeting and the ministers and their delegations.

In his statement, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “The main objective of the Habitat II Conference.... contained in the decisions of the first Preparatory Committee Meeting in Geneva is to commit the world's leaders to make our cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, just and sustainable and adopt a Global Plan of Action to achieve this”.

The Secretary General of Habitat II, Dr. Wally N'Dow, opened his address by commending Uganda fur its outstanding achievements in “rising from the ashes of civil war and civil suite”.

“It is an example worthy of emulation here in Africa and everywhere. It gives us hope even as we feel the pain inflicted by the tragedies of other African countries now torn by civil war, violence and untold suffering”. Dr. N'Dow said. “But I need not tell you what you already know too well. I do want to tell you that we will solve our problems, that we will say our fellow Africans, to the entire international community, that tragedy is not the future for Africa. And the evidence is here, a fitting back drop for our meeting”.

The Secretary General saw five objectives for the meeting: (i) the strengthening of political commitment to the preparatory process for Habitat II and to the Conference itself; (ii) the garnering of knowledge and insight from governmental and non-governmental institutions and organizations; (iii) the fostering of support of multilateral and bilateral organizations active in Africa; (iv) provision of a forum for an in-depth exchange of information and experiences; and (v) intensification of international awareness of the problems facing the sub-region.

Dr. N'Dow drew attention to the importance of the series of international conferences of this decade that began in Rio with the Earth Summit and which will end in Istanbul with Habitat II. “This unprecedented continuum of conferences spans some of the most serious and pressing challenges that will confront the world community in the next century. Together they are providing us with a more holistic, more humane message about our global problems and about the cooperative solutions they require. And that in the final analysis is what Istanbul is all about”.

The meeting closed its deliberations by issuing a declaration on the priorities for the sub region for the agenda of the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements - Habitat II and for its Global Plan of Action that will be the blueprint for human settlements development into the twenty-first century.

The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) - Second session of the Preparatory Committee, Nairobi, 25 April - 5 May 1995

The second session of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat II Conference, scheduled for Istanbul in June 1996, was held in Nairobi with calls by speakers to fit human settlements into the new development paradigm - sustainable human settlements - as part of preparations for a Conference of commitments in Istanbul.

The opening was graced by the presence of H.E. the Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya, Professor George Saitoti; the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Mr. Martti Lujanen; and the Secretary-General of Habitat II, Dr. Wally N'Dow.

The Chairman of PrepCom II, Mr. Martti Lujanen noted that economic, social and ecological indicators all clearly showed that many current development trends were leading to the deterioration of our environment and living conditions. Yet numerous positive examples all over the world indicated how “conscious policies can contribute to a reorientation.”

This session of the PrepCom decided on the approach, main elements and outline of the main document of the Istanbul Conference: the Draft Statement and Principles and Commitments, and the Global Plan of Action. It also strengthened work at the national and local levels to implement the goals of Habitat II. Already a number of conferences; seminars and meetings were working to that end, as were sub regional ministerial level meetings organized under the Habitat II preparatory process. Following a series of international conferences, Habitat II would, he believed “be an important cornerstone in building the new development paradigm for the next century”.

Dr. Wally N'Dow, Secretary-General of Habitat II, then read the message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros-Ghali. He said, “Habitat II will conclude the series of global conferences held under the umbrella of the United Nations during this decade to forge the elements of a common global strategy of people-centred and sustainable development for the 21st century”. The United Nations Secretary-General stressed the need to prepare for future urbanization “through the 'City Summit' in Istanbul in 1996, and its Global Plan of Action, for the planet's sustainable development in the 21st century”.

The United Nations Secretary-General's message also noted that “the Governments and organizations assembled here today need to provide leadership and guidance for this great global undertaking, in which all elements in civil society must participate”, and went on to express confidence in the Commission on Human Settlements to play its full part in that great endeavour.

In his own statement, Dr. N'Dow outlined steps on the journey to Istanbul which began with the first Preparatory Committee meeting for Habitat II in Geneva. Since then the host country, Turkey, had provided support and encouragement at every step, and the mandate to encourage a broad-based participatory process had been fulfilled in large measure. He went on to warn that both the urban threat and the rural dilemmas must be faced - as must “the Rwandas, the Burundis and the Bosnias of this world, with their rampant destruction of life and livelihoods”.

The impact of war and civil strife on human settlements and shelter had been raised in the Brazzaville Declaration for Habitat II. Thus the importance of regarding shelter as “a centrepiece of social stability”. Dr. N'Dow stated his belief that “it should be a basic component of any public policy aimed at improving the living conditions of people everywhere”. To that end, a true partnership was needed, with “the active participation of all who are prepared to journey with us on the Road to Istanbul” be they national governments, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, women's groups, youth, or the private sector. The Global Plan of Action would bridge differences and provide a real blueprint for enablement.

H.E. Professor George Saitoti, The Vice-President and Minister for Planning and National Development of the Republic of Kenya, described the importance of the second session of the Preparatory Committee for Habitat II, which had been given the responsibility by the international community to chart the future direction of human settlements. Unfavourable economic conditions, rapid population growth and the high rate of urbanization had brought about deterioration in human settlements, and there was a need to tackle obstacles which had impeded progress towards the achievement of shelter for all. He noted the need to improve critical inputs such as land and finance for the poor, to recognize the role of women, to support the poorest through innovative financial mechanisms.

In Kenya, the Government has recently adopted and gazetted the revised Building By-Laws and Planning Regulations, and was in the process of implementing safety nets in the housing sector to mitigate the negative effects of Structural Adjustment Programme. He mentioned the need for appropriate partnerships with the private sector and international community in developing quality and affordable housing. He also welcomed the enhancement of UNCHS (Habitat) as the human settlements focal point in the United Nations system. “We further urge that in the restructuring of the United Nations, the Centre should be maintained as a distinct and separate entity, so as not to dilute the important role it plays in the promotion of shelter”.

Following the opening ceremony, the session welcomed to its Bureau two new Vice-Chairpersons: the Permanent Representatives of Azerbaijan and of Sri Lanka to United Nations Headquarters in New York. They join H.E. Mrs. Pamela Mboya, Vice-Chairperson from Kenya.

The Head of the delegation of Turkey, host country for the City Summit, then addressed the gathering. He mentioned various events to take place in June 1996 - including a trade fair, exhibition on best practices, film festivals and concerts, symposia and seminars. Turkey's national committee was broad-based - with two thirds of its members representing non-governmental organizations. He stressed the overall need to strengthen participation, enhance partnership and good governance.

Publications Review

Published by UNCHS (Habitat)

Development of National Technological Capacity for Environmentally-Sound Construction

As a major consumer of natural resources and a potential polluter of the environment, the construction industry has recently come under the close scrutiny of the international community. With increasing urbanization, developing countries are experiencing a rapid change from the traditional use of low-energy, renewable building materials such as earth, stone and timber to energy-intensive building materials like cement, steel and glass. The indiscriminate use of non-renewable tropical hardwood is depleting tropical rain forests, yet there is much hesitation in the construction sector to switching to renewable species, even through cost-effective techniques for the preservation of such timber are now widely-available. Techniques for recycling of used materials and wastes have been developed but are yet to find widespread use in developing countries. The excessive use of non-renewable resources not only increases production costs but it is also an important cause of environmental degradation. The reversal of current trends will call for an effective strategy that promotes energy-efficient and low-polluting construction technologies, recycling and reuse of wastes and the use of low-energy materials.

Reconciling the seemingly conflicting goals of rapidly expanding the capacity of the construction sector to meet rising demand with those of conserving the natural resource base and controlling environmental polluting will not be easy. This will demand the ingenuity and the resourcefulness of the industry, governments and the international community. Industrialized countries have already made significant advances in this area through research, standardization and legislation. The impact of such initiatives will soon be felt in developing countries through more stringent conditionalities for development assistance, especially for more environment-friendly construction practices.

Agenda 21, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, in June 1992, has underscored the direct relationship between sustainable human settlements development and sustainable construction industry activities by including “Promoting sustainable construction industry activities” as a distinct programme area in its recommendations on “Promoting sustainable human settlement” (chapter 7 of agenda 21).

This publication represents an important milestone and the first significant step of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) towards implementing the recommendations of Agenda 21 for the construction sector. This publication is targeted to policy - and decision-makers as well as professionals who, in one way or another, are involved in the construction sector, especially those in developing countries.

91 pp., HS/293/93E; ISBN 92-1-131214-0

Vertical-Shaft Limekiln Technology

Traditionally, lime was extensively used in all types of construction for centuries until the advent of Portland cement. Despite its higher price, Portland cement has become an ubiquitous material, mainly because of its high strength, consistent quality and easy workability, so much so that Portland cement is used today in low-strength applications for foundation concrete, plasters, mortars and soil stabilization - applications where lime is ideally suited. On the other hand, the acceptability of lime in the construction market has suffered owing to its variable, and often unreliable, quality, especially when it is produced in small clamp-type kilns with little process control.

There are many reasons why small-scale producers of lime have failed to upgrade their productions process to ensure a better quality of lime. First, given the severely limited technical, financial and managerial capacity of small entrepreneurs in the building-materials industry, it is too much to expect them to seek out, evaluate and acquire new technologies from the domestic and international markets. Secondly, the information generally available on improving lime production technologies is not adequate enough to make a proper techno-economic feasibility study even when capacity of such an assessment is available to the industry.

The purpose of this publication is to bridge this gap by bringing together a range of information on lime production and illustrating different technological features of small-scale lime-production processes. In view of inherent advantages and successful experiences of using vertical-shaft lime-kiln technology of plant capacities ranging from 3 to 10 tons per day, special attention has been given to this technology. An important feature of this publication is the illustration of a methodology for conducting pre-feasibility studies and for the preparation of cost-benefit analysis. Our experience has shown that many small-scale entrepreneurs who have not been able to conduct a sound feasibility study prior to setting up a plant have failed to produce good-quality lime in a competitive market. It is, therefore, hoped that this publication will provide guidance and could serve as a useful reference for those small-scale enterprises which intend to set up new lime-producing units or wish to improve the productivity of their existing units.

Readers are invited also to refer to a recent UNCHS (Habitat) publication entitled Endogenous Capacity-building for the Production of Binding Materials in Construction Industry-Selected case studies, HS/292/93E. This publication is a compilation of a number of case studies from different countries on the production and use of lime and other binding materials.

82 pp., HS/303/93E, ISBN 92-1-131225-6.

Urbanization and sustainable development in the third world: an unrecognized global issue.

The twentieth century has been the century of the urban transition, the last phase of which is taking place in the developing countries. The magnitude of this transformation of the developing world - the sheer number of people involved - is without precedent in history. However, only now, after three decades of rapid urban growth in the developing countries, is the international community beginning to come to terms with the social and economic development policy implications of this transition.

With the urban population of the developing countries set to increase by almost 800 million people between 1985 and the end of this century, it is time to abandon the notions that urbanization in the developing countries is undesirable, avoidable or even, reversible. Such beliefs tend only to contribute to policy paralysis when it comes to the urban sector. Given the number of people involved, it should finally be accepted that the urban transition represents a profound economic transformation produced by the processes of modernization and development, of which the recent dramatic demographic shifts are only the mere surface manifestations. In 1950, less than 300 million people lived in towns and cities in the developing countries. By 1985, this number had increased to 1.1 billion. Currently increasing at a rate of 50 million a year, the urban population of the developing countries will reach almost 2 billion a little more than a decade from now. This means that, by the year 2000, two-thirds of the world's urban population will be living in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceanic. Decision-makers and experts should be prepared for this.

That these trends are irreversible is confirmed by any examination of the evidence. Contrary to much popular belief, the growth of urbanization and city population cannot be explained only in terms of migration from rural to urban areas. The image of cities swamped by rural migrants is undeniably a powerful one but it constitutes an inadequate basis for explaining what is happening. Only in minority of developing regions is migration the dominant element of urban growth. For the developing countries as a whole, as early as the 1960s, natural increase accounted for about 60 per cent of the growth of urban areas, and this percentage has been increasing ever since.

Yet there has not been a corresponding shift in international assistance and in national development priorities favouring the urban sector. Here, the fault does not lie entirely with policy-makers: other factors also come into play. Generations of anti-urban writers have portrayed the city as impersonal, evil by nature and conducive to social disorganization. Much has also been made on an alleged urban bias in development policies and the concept of the parasitic city, ignoring the fact that in many if not most developing countries, cities and towns are the main contributors to national, provincial and local tax revenues, in many cases outstripping rural areas not only on per capita basis but often also in absolute terms.

Nevertheless, the negative image of the city persists and has exercised the powerful influence on those who must make decisions in regard to development priorities, particularly in the donor countries. The urbanite is characterized as lonely in the midst of crowds - an individual forced to accept both the rapid pace of city life and the slow rate at which urban institutions respond to his or her needs. By contrast, the country-side retains the romantic glow of a lost Eden.

This publication addresses issues such as: The indoor, neighbourhood and city environment; Regional impact and rural-urban interactions; Environmental health problems; Urban pollution; and Global concern.

78 pp., HS/177/89E, ISBN-92-1-131099-7

The management of human settlements: The municipal level

In the “World of Cities” in which future generations will live, development prospects will largely rest on the ability of urban areas, large or small, municipal or metropolitan in character, to satisfy the following development goals: improving the living and working conditions of the whole population, and in particular, of those who are in a weaker position to articulate their needs and safeguard their rights and interest; promoting sustainable social and economic development; and enhancing and protecting the physical environment.

This challenge is of unprecedented dimensions and urgency, and meeting it will require a radically new look at the role of cities in national and global development. Central governments will have to accelerate action in the area of resource allocation, municipal reform, decentralization and empowerment of local governments if they want to enhance the contribution of cities to national development. The international community will have to redefine and strengthen its presence in urban sector. These will largely be supporting and facilitating role since both international and national resources to support local action will remain limited. The new paradigms for urban revitalization and rebirth will come from the cities themselves, and will be inspired by the diffusion and wide application of new approaches to local development emerging from the cities themselves.

The model to bring about this transition is a new, broader concept of municipal management, based on enabling principles already affirmed in the “New Agenda for Human Settlements” and reaffirmed in the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 as well as in “Agenda 21”. This model is based on the full participation of all actors and groups contributing to the growth and development of cities in all phases of municipal management illustrated in this report: the formulation of municipal policy; the adoption of a broad-based strategic approach to the formulation of policy objectives; the formulation, implementation monitoring and evaluation of municipal programmes and plans to achieve these objectives; the enhancement of human, financial, physical and environmental resources; the improvements of municipal performance; and the establishment of sustainable and productive partnerships within the municipality, between municipalities, and at the national and international levels. It is only through these enabling arrangements that the general principles of good management - transparency, accountability, and efficiency - can be made to flourish and management environments created in which people are at the same time the determinants, the beneficiaries and the agents of improvements and change.

This publication covers topics such as: reshaping the policy environment; translating opportunity into action; key areas for improved municipal management and institutional partnership.

120 pp., HS/307/93E, ISBN 92-1-131229-9.

Co-operative housing: Experiences on mutual self-help

The Global Strategy for Shelter to the year 2000, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988, lays considerable emphasis on “enabling” strategies to meet shelter needs. The Strategy recognizes that governments are unable to provide shelter for the majority of their populations but that they play an important role in providing a framework which enables the private and community sectors to provide housing.

The Strategy states that

“.... Implementation of a shelter strategy will involve the redefinition and redistribution of responsibilities to a variety of actors ranging from individual households through co-operative groups and informal and formal private producers to governmental agencies and ministries”

This publication focuses on “Co-operative groups” and the role that they play in the shelter sector. It presents four experiences of co-operative groups: Two in Africa and one each in Asia and Latin America. The case studies demonstrate the advantages and problems of different approaches to co-operative housing. The four experiences encompass a wide rage of self-help solutions of housing and describe a number of institutional forms, management approaches and financial arrangements. While each country has its own particular context which influences the nature of co-operative housing, there are features of co-operative housing organizations that are common to many countries.

This publication is intended for organizers of potential co-operatives as well as for those who are able to provide support to co-operatives, be it legal, financial or technical or in other ways. It is also meant for governments which are considering policies and strategies which will meet housing needs in times of severe financial constraint and for those in government who implement such policies and strategies.

As co-operative housing programmes and projects are initiated, they will require specially developed or adapted manuals, and training materials. There is no substitute for materials which are specific to each country and even to particular cities or regions.

These are best developed using a participatory method, perhaps with the help of a facilitator experienced in training methods and materials. This publication is not a substitute for the development of specific national materials. It is a means to learn from experience and raise issues for discussion.

At the international level there are a number of publications which deal with housing co-operatives in developing countries which are identified in the bibliography in this volume. They include manuals and prescriptions for undertaking co-operative housing projects and programmes. In addition to the references included here, a more extensive annotated bibliography on co-operative housing is being published as a companion to this volume.

163 pp., HS/179/89E, ISBN 92-1-131101-2.

Case studies of innovative housing finance institutions

Lack of access to suitable forms of credit has always been a major impediment to the provision of shelter for low-income groups. While most countries have established specialized housing-finance institutions, very few such institutions have succeeded in mobilizing saving on broad base. Relying on budget allocations and institutional investor for financial resources, these institutions lend, frequently at subsidized rates, mainly to high-income and middle-income households while the low-income groups - the vast majority of urban households - have limited access to formal housing finance.

In many developing countries, government budgets are no longer a reliable source of housing finance as a result of worsening economic conditions. Moreover, heavy inflation, often triggered by the liberalization of the economy has frequently decreased private investments in housing as investors have chosen to save in the form of stocks. As a result, the low-income groups have been increasingly excluded from formal housing finance.

During the past decade, several finance institutions have developed innovative mechanisms with a view to increasing mobilization of housing finance and improving access to finance to the poor. In continuance of the UNCHS (Habitat) programme on the development of housing-finance systems, this report employs three case studies to examine the main issues in the provision of housing finance in three African countries, Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The objective of this publication is to highlight some success and difficulties and to identify key areas for attention, and not necessarily to present replicable models for housing-finance institutions for low-income groups.

79 pp., HS/301/93E, ISBN 92-1-131222-2

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