|Journal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 2, Number 1 (HABITAT, 1992, 50 p.)|
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 kiln