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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 4, Number 1 (HABITAT, 1996, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe aim of the Network and its Journal
View the documentSecond United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) -''The City Summit'', Istanbul, Turkey. 3-14 June 1996
View the documentHabitat II and the Construction Sector
View the documentConstruction Sector For Housing And Infrastructure Delivery - An Issue Paper Prepared For The Habitat II Conference**
View the documentHabitat II - A Breakthrough for Non-governmental Organizations in Committee II of the Conference
View the documentHabitat II - Shelter-Afrique Launches a Continental Housing Investment Programme and Seeks to Expand Membership
View the documentCost - effective Building Technologies - Technology Transfer, Dissemination and Extension: The Indian experience***
View the documentHabitat II - Conference closes as Habitat Agenda is Adopted, UNCHS to be Strengthened as Implementing Agency
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications Review
View the documentBack cover

Habitat II and the Construction Sector

Recognizing the importance of the construction sector for delivering adequate housing and infrastructure facilities for millions of poor and low-income population worldwide, the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), held in Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996, underscored, among others, the direct relationship between construction sector and "adequate shelter for all" by including "Improving planning, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation" as a distinct action-area in the "Habitat Agenda". The Conference, while emphasizing the need for increased and environmentally-sound construction, adopted a set of recommendations/actions to be implemented by Governments and all other stakeholders so as to improve the performance of the sector globally. The section on construction (IV.B.3.f) which is part of the Chapter IV - "Global Plan of Action: Strategies for Implementation" - and is under the theme: "Adequate Shelter for All" as adopted by the conferences is given below.

(f) Improving planning, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation*

* Numbers of paragraphs and text have been taken from Habitat Agenda.

88. With rapid urbanization, population growth and industrialization, the skills, materials and financing for the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of housing, infrastructure and other facilities are often not available or are of inferior quality. Public policy and private investment should, together, facilitate an adequate supply of cost-effective building materials, construction technology and bridging finance to avoid the bottlenecks and distortions that inhibit the development of local and national economies. By improving the quality and reducing the cost of production, housing and other structures will last longer, be better protected against disasters, and be affordable to low-income populations and accessible to persons with disabilities, which will provide a better living environment. The potential for job creation and other positive external socio-economic impacts of the construction industry should be harnessed; its activity should be brought into harmony with the environment, and its contribution to overall economic growth should be exploited. all to the advantage of society at large. Institutional support should also be provided in the form of industrial standards and quality control, with particular attention to energy efficiency, health, accessibility, and consumer safety and protection.

89. Meeting the actual needs of individuals, families and their communities cannot be achieved by looking at shelter in isolation. Provision of adequate social services and facilities, improving and rationalizing urban planning and shelter design to cope firmly with the actual needs of communities, as well as provision of technical and other relevant assistance to the inhabitants of unplanned settlements are essential for the improvement of living conditions.


90. To respond effectively to the requirements for appropriate planning, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of shelter, infrastructure and other facilities, Governments at the appropriate levels should:

(a) Encourage and support research and studies to promote and develop indigenous planning and design techniques, norms and standards to match the actual needs of local communities;

(b) Encourage public participation in assessing real user needs, especially gender needs, as an integrated action of the planning and design process;

(c) Encourage the exchange of regional and international experience of best practices and facilitate the transfer of planning, design and construction techniques;

(d) Strengthen the capacities of training institutions and non-governmental organizations to increase and diversify the supply of skilled workers in construction and promote apprenticeship training, particularly for women;

(e) Make use of contracts with community-based organizations and, where applicable, the informal sector for the planning, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of housing and local services, especially in low-income settlements, with an emphasis on enhancing the participation and, thus. Short - and long-term gains of local communities;

(f) Strengthen the capacity of both public and private sectors for infrastructure delivery through cost-effective, employment-intensive methods, where appropriate, thereby optimizing the impact on the creation of employment;

(g) Promote research, exchange of information and capacity-building with respect to affordable and technically and environmentally-sound building, maintenance and rehabilitation technologies;

(h) Provide incentives for engineers, architects, planners and contractors and their clients to design and build accessible energy-efficient structures and facilities by using locally-available resources and to reduce energy consumption in buildings in use;

(i) Provide training to professionals and practitioners in the construction and development sector to update their skills and knowledge in order to promote the development of shelter programmes that serve the interests and needs of women, persons with disabilities and disadvantaged groups and that ensure their participation at all stages of the shelter development process;

(j) Adopt and ensure the enforcement of appropriate standards relating to planning, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation;

(k) Support private-sector initiatives to provide bridging loans to builders at reasonable interest rates;

(i) Support professional groups in offering technical assistance in planning, design, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and management to community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and others engaged in self-help and community-based development;

(m) Strengthen and make more transparent government regulatory and inspection systems;

(n) Join with professional societies to review and revise building codes and regulations based on current standards of engineering, building and planning practices, local conditions and ease of administration, and adopt performance standards, as appropriate;

(o) Support non-governmental organizations and other groups to ensure full and equal participation of women and persons with disabilities in the planning, design and construction of houses to suit their specific individual and family requirements.

91. To promote and support an adequate supply of locally produced, environmentally sound, affordable and durable basic building materials, Governments at the appropriate levels, in cooperation with all other interested parties, should:

(a) Where appropriate, encourage and support the establishment and expansion of environmentally sound, small-scale, local building materials industries and the expansion of their production and commercialization through, inter alia, legal and fiscal incentives and the provision of credit, research and development, and information;

(b) As required, provide policies and guidelines to facilitate fair market competition for building materials with enhanced participation of local interested parties and establish a public mechanism to enforce them;

(c) Promote information exchange and the flow of appropriate environmentally sound, affordable and accessible building technologies and facilitate the transfer of technology;

(d) With adequate attention to safety needs, reformulate and adopt building standards and by-laws, where appropriate, to promote and permit the use of low-cost building materials in housing schemes, and use such materials in public construction works;

(e) Where appropriate, promote partnerships with the private sector and non-governmental organizations to create mechanisms for the commercial production and distribution of basic building materials for self-help construction programmes;

(f) Evaluate on a regular basis the progress made in the pursuit of the above objectives.

92. To enhance the local capacity for environmentally-sound production of building materials and construction techniques, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in cooperation with all interested parties, should:

(a) Intensify and support research efforts to find substitutes for or optimize the use of non-renewable resources and to reduce their polluting effects, paying special attention to recycling, re-use of waste materials and increased reforestation;

(b) Encourage and promote the application of low-energy, environmentally sound and safe manufacturing technologies backed by appropriate norms and effective regulatory measures;

(c) Adopt mining and quarrying policies and practices that ensure minimum damage to the environment.