|Journal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 3 (HABITAT, 1995, 42 p.)|
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
Low-cost housing construction using locally available materials