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close this bookJournal of the Network of African Countries on Local Building Materials and Technologies - Volume 3, Number 2 (HABITAT, 1994, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Aim of the Network and its Journal
View the documentForeword
View the documentKenya: Koma Rock Housing Project in Nairobi*
View the documentTechnology Profile No. 1 - Fibre-concrete Roofing**
View the documentTechnology Profile No. 2 - Utilization of Agricultural Wastes***
View the documentEvents
View the documentPublications Review
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Publications Review

Published by UNCHS (Habitat)

Strategies for the Provision of Facilities, Service and
Housing Improvements in Ghana, Uganda and

Strategies for participatory development have become an essential part of policies for international development cooperation. Increasingly, governments, residents and the private sector in developing and developed countries have recognized the value and benefit of working in partnerships in order to manage development and improvement tasks, especially at local levels. For more than 10 years, UNCHS (Habitat) has been responding to the growing demand for suitable operational strategies and policies which, in a participatory, cost-effective and democratic way, contribute to establishing such partnerships for improving the living and working conditions of the low-income population, as well as to sustaining participatory urban and rural management approaches.

In 1991, UNCHS (Habitat), with financial support from the Danish Government (Danida) launched a new initiative, the Community Management Programme. The goal of the Programme is to contribute to the improvement of the living and working conditions of people in low-income settlements, particularly, in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana and Uganda, which are the countries that participate in the operational activities of that Programme.

The Programme responds to the challenge of mounting a realistic improvement strategy for residents of low-income settlements, the urban majority who live and work in informal slum and squatter settlements with poor services and infrastructure. They are, nevertheless, the prime-movers of the improvements that take place today in these areas. Planners have had a very limited role in this process, if any, most of the urbanization process being effectively out of their reach and control. Conventional planning and development efforts are usually limited to interventions in the city centre and in affluent and middle-to high-income residential areas, where a minority of the urban population lives.

Provision of services, infrastructure and housing in rural areas traditionally has been a shared responsibility between the villagers and the district authorities and their administrations. However, in most cases, communities are left to develop and improve their own living and working environment with limited or no support from the authorities. Human and financial resources at the disposal of district authorities and their administrations are usually not sufficient to reach all rural areas. Thus, there is a need also at this level to change the approach and role of the authorities to an enabling one, empowering people to undertake a leading role as managers of community development.

So far, most international and national efforts have concentrated on improving existing municipal structures and human resources within the conventional understanding that the role of local governments and municipalities is to discharge all those activities and functions - services, infrastructure, development and maintenance, physical planning etc. - which cannot be met easily and cost-effectively by the people themselves. The major challenge today, however, is not simply to train public administrators and technical personnel to carry out such functions, but to link them to what is the reality within the greater part of cities and rural areas. Hence, facing this changing urban and rural reality, governments will have to adopt a new role, a new approach which matches today's urbanization process and the development process in the rural areas. Such a new role should facilitate local improvement and development activities and will require that governments adopt an enabling framework of policies and strategies targeted at supporting community initiatives and activities, rather than maintaining their conventional role of settlement planning and control through sets of bye-laws. Hence, a major objective of the Community Management Programme is to contribute to this process by formulating the needed changes within government and government training institutions to address directly the needs of communities for technical, financial, managerial and legislative support.

This publication assesses strategies for community-based provision of facilities, services and housing improvements in the African region, with the help of three community development projects in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia which arc assisted by UNCHS (Habitat). As the projects in Ghana and Uganda, however, only started in 1992, the chapter on conclusions is largely based on the experiences of the Zambian project.

53 pp., HS/300/93E: ISBN 92-1-131212-3

Small-scale Production of Portland Cement


Cement, with its superior binding properties, early strength development and easy availability in ready-to-use condition, has become the most popular binding material for construction. Cement is used as a basic building material not only in heavy civil engineering construction but also in low-cost housing and infrastructure. The per capita production and consumption of cement is often used as an indicator of development, especially in developing countries.

Yet, the growth of cement production in developing countries during the 1980s was far from satisfactory, in both absolute and per capita terms. Production gains have been highly uneven among developing countries and chronic shortfalls have pushed up the prices, substantially more than the increase in (he cost-of-living index.

One of the main reasons for the limited expansion of the production capacity of the cement industry has been the choice of technology in favour of large-scale production facilities. Most developing countries, in the past, have opted for large-scale rotary-kiln technologies, requiring large investment and long gestation periods. For a variety of reasons, such as supply-side constraints imposed by energy costs, the size of the market and its volatility, and rising distribution costs, these large plants have neither been able to achieve economies of scale nor have they been able to bridge the demand-supply gap.

The advantages of small-scale, decentralized cement production are being increasingly recognized. The inherent flexibility of small-scale operations to cope with volatile and shifting demands, and their ability to lake best advantage of available factors of production in developing countries are the main sources of their strength. Yet, the total installed capacity of mini-cement plants outside China and India remains very limited, mainly because of the lack of wide-scale dissemination of the required information relating to this technology among prospective entrepreneurs.

This publication is intended to fill this information gap by bringing together, under one cover, all the information that a prospective entrepreneur would be looking for to make investment decisions. In addition to technological information, the publication provides a methodology for carrying out pre-feasibility studies to ascertain project cost and probability. A few selected case studies are listed in the annex which should add to the utility of the publication.

81 pp., HS/281/93E: ISBN 92-1-131204-3

The Maintenance of Infrastructure and its Financing and Cost Recovery


It is now well recognized that an efficient system of environmental infrastructure is fundamental to the well-being of a country and indispensable for the promotion of productive activities and social development. Environmental infrastructure systems are crucial for preventing communicable diseases and providing services for industrial and commercial operations. However, while environmental infrastructure, hereafter referred to only as infrastructure, plays an important role in the economies of most countries, it also represents a considerable cost to them.

In this respect, the deterioration of infrastructural assets represents an enormous drain on national wealth and causes serious undermining of the development process. The financial consequences of neglecting maintenance is often only seen in terms of reduced asset life and premature replacement. However, neglecting maintenance also implies increased costs of operating facilities and waste of related natural and financial resources.

This publication builds on previous extensive research activities by UNCHS (Habitat) on issues related to buildings and infrastructure maintenance. However, while the Centre s previous reports and case studies focused on specific issues related to infrastructure maintenance, there was a need to consolidate the findings of these studies into a comprehensive publication that can guide senior decision-makers, urban managers and municipal engineers in introducing and improving effective maintenance programmes within their operational activities. It also outlines the basic problems and issues confronting national managers and municipal engineers striving to introduce improved maintenance procedures, and then reviews potential strategies for addressing them. The general issues are illustrated with specific examples and case studies from countries tackling these problems and developing improved approaches. Lessons learned from the field experiences should be of use to decision-makers searching for solutions to difficult problems in their own countries.

72 pp., HS/285/93E: ISBN 92-1-131209-4