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close this bookAssessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentI. Recent trends in shelter projects
close this folderII. Financial and economic impact of shelter projects
View the document2.1 Mobilization of household savings
View the document2.2 Affordability, subsidy and cost recovery
close this folder2.3 Institutional framework and financial management
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.3.1 Institutional culture of public-sector agencies
View the document2.3.2 Role of local government agencies
View the document2.3.3 Relationship with local community groups
View the document2.4 Comparison with non-project shelter standards and costs
close this folderIII. Social impact of shelter projects
View the document3.1 Social impact at the local level
View the document3.2 Contribution to residential stability
View the document3.3 Proximity of projects to employment locations
View the document3.4 Job creation at the local level
View the document3.5 Impact of projects on the development of community based and non-governmental organizations
View the document3.6 Acceptability of project components to project beneficiaries
close this folderIV. Impact of the project approach on total shelter demand
View the document4.1 Shelter demand and levels of supply by projects
View the document4.2 Replicability of housing projects
close this folderV. Shelter projects and national policies
View the document5.1 Impact of projects on policy, and consistency of project and policy objectives
View the document5.2 Consistency with the objectives of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000
close this folderVI. Achieving a multiplier effect through shelter projects
View the document6.1 Impact on institutional capabilities and public-sector roles in the shelter-delivery process
View the document6.2 Impact on urbanization, urban growth, spatial planning and infrastructure provision
View the document6.3 Addressing constraints in land and housing markets
View the document6.4 Impact on building and planning codes, regulations and standards
View the document6.5 Development of the construction industry and construction techniques
close this folderVII. Conclusions and recommendations
View the document7.1 General criticism of the project approach
View the document7.2 Projects in the context of national shelter strategies
close this folder7.3 Future emphasis and priorities in housing projects
View the document(introduction...)
View the document7.3.1 Projects to provide new shelter
View the document7.3.2 Upgrading projects
close this folder7.4 A framework for assessing the efficiency of project components
View the document(introduction...)
View the document7.4.1 Elements provided by projects
View the document7.4.2 Provision of other elements
View the document7.4.3 Guidelines for preparing and assessing future shelter projects
View the document7.5 The role of projects in the development and implementation of national shelter policies and the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000
View the documentList of references

6.5 Development of the construction industry and construction techniques

It is difficult to obtain evidence concerning the extent to which projects have helped to develop new construction techniques, or address the capacity of the local and national building-materials-supply industry to meet the required level and nature of demand. Yet, some experiences can be cited. In Indonesia, for example, the introduction of low-technology materials and construction systems have enabled the benefits of such economic development to move further down the socio-economic ladder to benefit low-income households (Herlianto, 1990:93). This is reinforced by relaxations in the enforcement of building codes, though the codes themselves have not been officially revised (Herlianto, 1990: 91). In the Kalingalinga project in Zambia, local block-making enterprises were established and successful experiments held, using earth as a building material. These proved to be almost too successful, in that open spaces were raided for earth.

In the other case-study projects and countries, there appears to have been no progress in using shelter projects to introduce innovations in building technology or materials. In Sri Lanka and Turkey, projects are not in general regarded as opportunities to experiment with new construction systems or techniques and projects have had no discernible effect on the building industry. The same applies to Zimbabwe, where the experience with the project approach has not succeeded in stimulating the construction industry to meet increased demand, or encouraged experimentation in construction techniques. Yet, it should be noted that some housing projects, particularly those initiated through public-private partnerships to address the needs of upper-middle and middle-income groups, have tried out new technologies and construction systems. The main result has been the development of more energy-efficient and less costly building materials. Furthermore, such projects have facilitated the development of new organizational arrangements where public-sector agencies have entered into partnerships with housing cooperatives and private construction companies. The approach introduced by Kent-Koop in Turkey is a good example of this type of development.

Projects in Zimbabwe have contributed indirectly to the development of the informal building-materials industry (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 1990:61). This was not, however, an intended outcome of the shelter projects. It happened rather despite the projects, since the formal-sector building-materials industry was unable to meet the demand. Project implementation and industrial production planning was the responsibility of different ministries with little or no co-ordination taking place. This experience also begs the question of whether industrial production can be efficiently managed by public-sector agencies. It is invariably an aspect best left to the private sector, despite apparent ideological reservations concerning this locally.

Yet, the greatest case of lost opportunity is probably that of Colombia. More than any other developing country, Colombia attempted to use housing as a means of expanding the construction industry and through it, the national economy. The failure to capitalize on its early efforts has resulted in the country slipping well behind most other developing countries in this respect.

None of the above discussion is to deny that there are important examples of innovation in building materials and construction systems being developed in other countries. It simply indicates that projects, so far, have not been used to test prototypes. Many countries also boast building research institutes that generate numerous examples of appropriate technologies, such as sand-cement blocks, pozzolana, and bamboo or sisal reinforced beams. The shortage would not appear to lie in the number of technical options, but in their dissemination and effective marketing to the builders and developers who need to be convinced of their merits. Another constraint may be that existing building regulations discourage, or even prevent, the adoption of new materials or construction systems, even on an experimental basis. It is unlikely that this problem can be overcome until building regulations are either based upon performance specifications, rather than prescribed, conventional solutions, or relaxed, so that builders can adopt incremental development processes. One option for resolving this problem may be to specify performance standards for new buildings that leave the builder free to figure out how conformity can be achieved using available and affordable materials and construction techniques. Another option could be to distinguish between initial and ultimate standards of development that could enable poor households to follow the traditional process of incremental development. There is a need to develop procedures that provide incentives to good practice rather than to punish non-conformity.