|GATE - 4/92 - Networking: Lessons and Hopes (GTZ GATE, 1992, 56 p.)|
by Hannah Schreckenbach and Kirm Mukerji
BASIN is the first coordinated network on building issues jointly run by four European appropriate technology (AT) organizations, each of which specializes in a specific subject area, in order to provide a more qualified service to all those who need advice and information on appropriate building technologies.
The situation in the building information sector can be summarized as follows:
1. On account of the ever increasing housing backlog and the need for buildings of all kinds (schools, health care facilities, places for work, etc) there is a growing need for information on building materials and construction technologies in developing countries.
2. Within most developing countries, literature and advice on building problems are either not available, or expensive, or very difficult to get.
3. There is practically no free flow of information from industrialized to developing countries, or between the developing countries themselves.
4. It is very difficult for enquirers from developing countries to obtain information or advice on specific building problems, because
· they do not know the right
institution or expert to get in touch with (even within their own
· little or no suitable literature exists on certain subjects;
· the prices of specialized literature and data bank services (mainly available in industrialized countries) are too high.
5. A number of AT organizations offer free information services, but since they cover many subject areas, are rarely in a position to provide qualified answers to enquiries on specific building problems.
6. Problems encountered in the application of innovative building technologies have often resulted from misleading or incomplete information, but also on account of the fact that appropriate building technologies are quite often considered to be simple enough to be implemented by people without special skills or training.
7. Research and development projects are often duplicated due to lack of information exchange and consequently lack of coordination of activities.
In view of these problems, it was necessary to establish a network, which:
· promoted a free flow of information between all countries and, in particular, provided access to information sources in the industrialized countries; and
· provided qualified, professional and practical advice in specialized fields of building materials production and application in building construction, with a view to disseminating proven building technologies and to avoiding the wasteful and expensive duplication of research activities.
So, in order to achieve these aims, first three, and later four, European AT organizations, which had been cooperating on various projects in the past, joined hands in setting up the Building Advisory Service and Information Network - BASIN.
The first three organizations that formed BASIN were
GATE - German Appropriate Technology Exchange in Eschborn,
ITDG - Intermediate Technology Development Group in Rugby, U. K.; and
SKAT - Swiss Center for Appropriate Technology in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
All three organizations had for many years provided an enquiry and answer service on all building issues, apart from several other subject areas. In the course of time, when the volume of enquiries had grown and were becoming more and more specialized, it became increasingly difficult to provide qualified answers to specific enquiries. Furthermore, the statistics showed that the enquiries could be grouped into three main subject areas:
· Production and use of wall
· Production and use of roofing materials; and
· Production and use of cements and binders.
Since one of the principal aims of BASIN was to provide "qualified, professional and practical advice in specialized fields", the only way to achieve it was to divide the responsibilities and allow for greater specialization in limited subject areas.
It so happened that SKAT had already established the Fibre Concrete Advisory Service (FAS), which focussed on an innovative roofing material. ITDG, on the other hand, was well-known for its Building Materials Panel, the members of which include internationally renowned experts on mineral binders.
Consequently, when BASIN was set up in August 1988, SKAT formed the Roofing Advisory Service, ITDG established the Cements and Binders Advisory Service, and GATE, with its experienced team of experts on tropical building, took over the Wall Building Advisory Service.
While the general allocation of subject areas proved to be very appropriate, an increasing percentage of enquiries was found to relate to earth construction. Hence, in response to this development and to give earth construction the status it deserves, it was decided to set up an Earth Building Advisory Service, which was taken over in October 1990 by CRATerre, the International Centre for Earth Construction, based in Villefontaine, France.
The BASIN Concept
BASIN is an international focal point for the coordination and dissemination of information on building materials and construction technologies for developing countries. The principal objective of this network, is to provide technical advice and information to research, training and other institutions, building professionals, artisans and all groups involved in housing and building in developing countries.
How BASIN goes about achieving this objective is outlined as follows.
· BASIN operates a newly developed database, which is coordinated between the partner organizations and contains information on
in the respective subject areas, wall building, cements and binders, roofing and earth building.
· With this constantly increasing and updated information base, together with a fast growing collection of international literature and a pool of recognized subject specialists to refer to, highly qualified answers can be given to technical enquiries on numerous building issues.
· Unlike most information networks, in which each partner covers the same wide spectrum of subjects, the BASIN partners pass on enquiries on a particular subject to the partner that is most capable of providing a satisfactory answer.
· A major aim is not only to establish an exchange of information between BASIN and the enquirer, but also between building professionals and institutions within the developing countries themselves.
· Furthermore, BASIN identifies subject areas in which more information is needed and produces the necessary publications and audio-visual material for dissemination. For these a special strategy has been developed, which includes the following categories of information material:
- Technical briefs
- Product Information guides
- Basics of... (a certain technology or building material production system, etc)
- Case studies
- Manuals of small-scale production of...
- Design guidelines for... - Quality control guidelines for...
- Manuals on management of... - Select bibliographies
- Video film series on "Sustainable Building Technologies"
By coordinating the preparation of publications and audiovisual material, duplication of work is avoided, and overlapping subjects are dealt with jointly by the respective network partners.
· A regular source of information about the activities of the network, new publications, forthcoming events, etc, is the bi-annual newsletter, BASIN News, which appears every January and July, and is sent out to all institutions and individuals that are in contact with BASIN.
· The services offered by BASIN, in the form of technical advice by subject specialists and provision of printed material on various technical issues are available free of charge to enquirers from developing countries.
· In addition to the above activities, BASIN conducts training courses, seminars and offers consultancy services.
BASIN is an international focal point for the coordination and dissemination of information on building materials and construction technologies. The principal objective of this network is to provide technical advice and information to research, training and other institutions, building professionals, artisans and all groups involved in housing and building materials production in developing countries.
BASIN est un point de rencontre international charge de la coordination et de la propagation d'informations concernant les materiaux et les techniques de construction formations techniques a des organismes de recherche, de formation et autres institutions chargees de la formation des hommes de metier, des artisans et de tous les groupes exercant des activites dans le domaine du batiment et de la construction dans les pays en vole de developpement.
BASIN es un punto central internacional pare la coordinacion y divulgacion de materiales y tecnologias de construccion pare paises en via de desarrollo. Objetivo principal de esta red es la provision de asesoramiento e informacion tecnica para la informacion, formacion profesional y otras instituciones, profesionales de la pour les pays en vole de construccion, artesanos y todos developpement. L'objectif los grupos implicados en el aloprincipal de ce reseau est de jamiento y la construccion en fournir des conseils et des in- paises en via de desarrollo.
Every building technology, even those that are considered simple and suitable for self-help construction, require a certain amount of training to ensure satisfactory results. Therefore, BASIN offers a variety of training activities:
· In the field or on-the-job training for field workers;
· Intensive courses for architects, engineers, building experts, government officials and other decision-makers, not only on the manufacture and processing of building materials, but also on project planning and implementation:
· A special six-week international training course on "Economic construction and local building materials", under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), is offered to governmental and non-governmental decision-makers to develop strategies and instruments for the promotion and use of local building materials in the participants' respective countries.
Seminars, workshops, exhibitions and the like are organized or co-organized by BASIN on various aspects related to the work of BASIN, such as production of building materials, construction technologies, management, marketing, building traditions, quality control guidelines, standards, social aspects and the like.
BASIN offers a professional consultancy service to national and international agencies, governments, consultancies, entrepreneurs and to other organizations that require the services of highly qualified and experienced experts. These services can include project identification, formulation and implementation, project evaluation, feasibility studies, short term expertises and so on. Furthermore, assistance can be provided in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of research and development projects.
The Global Strategy for Shelter
Although BASIN was established before the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000 (GSS) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1988, the objectives of BASIN fully conform to those of the GSS. Consequently, the work of BASIN has become an active contribution to the achievement of the ultimate goals of the GSS.