One of the important factors that hinder the development of the
local building materials sector in most developing countries is the inability of
research institutions to translate their research findings into commercial
production. One way of tackling this constraint is through effective information
exchange. Information exchange is an important tool for the development of any
sector. It increases awareness among various actors involved in the sector,
facilitates transfer and diffusion of technology and stimulates intercountry or
interinstitutional cooperation in a variety of areas.
In the past few decades, quite a number of research institutions
and universities have been established in Africa and considerable research work
is being carried out in them. However, in the absence of effective information
exchange mechanisms, most research results and innovations in the building
materials sector have remained inaccessible to many African countries.
Prospective entrepreneurs or industrial promotion agencies looking for new
technologies will need all the available technical information about a
production process and its output. They would also be interested in knowing
whether the technology has proved a commercial success elsewhere, particularly,
under similar conditions of application.
A major reason for the present unsatisfactory situation is that
building research institutions in many developing countries remain preoccupied
with basic research work and the important task of disseminating research
information to the industry is not given requisite priority. Consequently, the
industry, as a whole, has very little access to information on new and
innovative technologies appropriate to its needs. The limited information
available from equipment suppliers are also often biased in favour of
large-scale technologies, of little relevance to the vast majority of
small-scale producers of building materials.
The Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and
Technologies, through this Journal, is attempting to bridge this
information gap by collecting, processing and disseminating information on
appropriate technologies and materials among African countries. The previous two
issues of the Journal focused on roofing and walling materials. The theme
selected for this issue is binding materials. There is no doubt that both
walling and roofing materials are crucial for the construction of a low-cost
house, however, none of them could be produced without the use of appropriate
binding materials. Binders are essential components in the production of mortars
for masonry, in plastering walls, in stabilizing soil and in making concrete.
Among the different types of binding materials, Portland cement, with its proved
suitability in all types of construction work, has remained practically
inaccessible to many low-income house builders in developing countries because
of its scarcity and high cost. Many research institutions, in the recent past,
have devoted efforts to finding solutions to replace cement with such
alternative binders as lime and natural pozzolanas, and binders produced from
agricultural and industrial wastes, and other materials. What remains now is to
stimulate the industrial sector to make use of such research findings, to
increase commercial production, and, by innovative marketing programmes, to
increase the acceptability of such lowcost binders among individual house
builders and contractors.
In this issue of the Journal a number of technical
articles on research findings and innovations for the production and use of
lowcost binders have been compiled, and I hope that they will be of interest and
use to the readers. In this connection, I would like to acknowledge and thank
all the authors and institutions in the countries whose papers are included in
this issue and hope that all these efforts will assist in meeting our common
objective: to facilitate better shelter for all.
A good foundation is important for
ensuring durability of low-cost houses
Side view of a lime