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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 2, Number 3 (HABITAT, 1993, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentSustainable development and the construction industry
View the documentKenya: Fibre-concrete roofing technology: Adaptation and progress*
View the documentZimbabwe: Low-income housing pilot projects
View the documentIndia: Technology profile: Solar timber seasoning kiln*
View the documentPublications review
View the documentEvents
View the documentForthcoming events


Construction-industry activities are directly linked with overall socio-economic development in every country. The industry provides the means to meet basic human needs, including shelter and infrastructure, and contributes to the realization of economic goals and better living conditions. However, the continuing dependence of the industry on non-renewable natural resources and the impact of its operations on the physical environment and the ecosystem are major constraints to its growth.

Sustainable construction-industry activities require a policy framework that effectively addresses the twin requirements of the sustainable management of natural resources and the control of degradation of the environment associated with such activities. There is a growing perception, worldwide, that construction activities must progressively harmonize with environmental needs to sustain their growth in the term. To achieve this, it is necessary to bridge the current gap of objective information on the environmental implications of construction products and processes. Wide dissemination of such information among practitioners in the industry and the public is equally crucial. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need to develop capacity in developing countries for resource management and pollution control in construction. Concerted efforts in this regard will lead to the formulation of environmental policies related to construction, development of standards, enforcement through legislation, and finally to improved construction practices.

UNCHS (Habitat) has focused on the inter-relationship between construction and environment in recent years. The recent publication of the Centre, Development of National Technology Capacity for Environmentally Sound Construction, provides an in-depth analysis of the various environmental stresses caused by construction activities and a strategy for coordinated action by the industry, governments and professional bodies. This issue of the Journal includes an article, Sustainable development and the construction industry, which provides an overview of the on-going construction-environment debated. In addition to contributing to the environment debate, this issue of the Journal, like the previous issues, deals with a specific technical theme: roofing materials, by highlighting the experience of Kenya in fibre-concrete roofing technology. I hope that the efforts of UNCHS (Habitat) in disseminating technical information through this Journal will stimulate the professional community and encourage small-scale entrepreneurs to increase their efforts in producing and marketing the basic building materials required for shelter delivery in African countries and elsewhere. It is hoped that readers will find the articles included in this Journal of interest and useful in their professional work.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)