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Blueprints for Future Homes – Low Cost Solutions for Urban Housing

Juli 3, 2011
Khuda-Ki Basti, (C) Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen Fund

Khuda-Ki Basti, (C) Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen Fund

Everybody knows the typical images of slums. Makeshift homes constructed with whatever can be found that look like they’ll collapse when it starts to rain. Often this is just what they are. What to do about it? It’s an obvious problem but its a complicated one as well, you can not simply tear the slums down and resettle the inhabitants and as building homes does not come for free, it is often too big a challenge for the local authorities. The ideal solution would be cheap and environmentally friendly and while we are at it why not create jobs for the local population so that the project is self-sustaining? Sounds like a plan.  Here are some examples.

One approach is tried in Pakistan by the NGO Saiban. They offer slum dwellers low cost plots connected to the necessary infrastructure and a secure residental tenure. To date the project (Khuda-Ki-Basti 1 to 4) was implemented in three cities in Pakistan. The interested buyers of land have to show their sincerity and live in temporary homes for a while before they receive a plot for their future home. The management of the site helps out with technical and other support for the families. Even as the land is some distance away from the city centre it is connected to it via public transport and therefore the demand for these plots is quite high. The cost for the land is lower then the market rate to make it possible for poor families to buy land for themselves, at the same time 10% (or more) of the land of the scheme is sold at market rate for commercial purposes, subsidizing the land for the poorer families. Moreover, to avoid that owners start speculating with the land, ownership is conditional on living on-site. The scheme was started in 1987 in Hyderabad and expanded to Karachi and Lahore. Since then small cities have developed with schools, shops, parks and necessary amenities and social life.

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A similar idea was realized in Nairobi by the Pamoja Trust and others. Here an informal housing community of 270 households worked together to jointly establish secure housing rights and better homes for themselves. Land right conflicts were settled and the city made land available. To tie the community together the title for the land was transferred

Kambi Moto, (C) Homeless International

Kambi Moto, (C) Homeless International

to the community as a whole and each household received the rights for only a section of the land. If someone then wants to sell the land the title is sold back to the community. A technical team came up with several designs of how to use the limited available space (only 20,25 m²) most efficiently. The community then chose a design for the houses of three floors that can be build one after the other and are connected to sewerage, water and electricity. Loans were made available for the houses but the construction work was done by the residents themselves. Further, not all houses were built at a time as the old houses need to be torn down to make room for the new ones and this would have meant that the residents would have to live on the streets. Therefore houses were replaced step by step and the residents were able to share a house with their neighbors until the own house is finished. Thus a strong sense for community was introduced, ownership was improved and the residents now live in cleaner and safer houses…

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A different approach, not focusing that much on the land tenure but more on income generation is being applied in Brazil by the NGO Ação Moradia. People, mostly women are trained to build the houses themselves, but they also produce the bricks for the construction. The bricks factory is managed by a group of women who received technical training from the NGO and can now run the factory as a social business. The bricks are shaped in a way that the houses can be assembled fast and easy, like LEGO, reducing the costs of building a house by up to 30%. More than 65 houses have been built like this since 2003 and through the brick factory income is generated benefitting more than 50 people directly. 360 women have been trained in the methods of brick production and can use their knowledge to transfer the project to other cities.

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And finally, a project that almost sounds too good to be true. The brazilian NGO Curadores da Terra has develop a

Construction materials made of waste amalgamated with organic resins, (C) Curadores da Terra

Construction materials made of waste amalgamated with organic resins, (C) Curadores da Terra

technique to tranform waste into construction materials and energy. The energy is sold and therefore provides the main source of income of the „Clean Plant“. Besides the waste another input is necessary for the construction materials: organic resins to amalgate the waste to form „bricks“ (not actually bricks). Therefore, parts of the money from selling energy are used to plant „Ecological Habitats“. From these habitats oil for the resins, additional construction material such as bamboo and natural fertilizer is won. The construction material is then sold to poor families and offers a sustainable and affordable option to build homes. Waste pickers benefit as they are hired by the plants and earn money for the waste they collect, farmers are employed in the Ecological Habitats and skilled individuals are trained in the new construction techniques. Right now, funding is sought for the first Clean Plant, but the costs are already competitive with other waste processing/disposing alternatives and costs for construction of houses could be lowered significantly. This could be a break-through technology to provide low cost and sustainable housing for poor families all over the world.

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