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Message - Re: Green housing for the poor in Sub-saharan Africa

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Posted by  justus on March 23, 2004 at 05:34:40:

In Reply to:  Green housing for the poor in Sub-saharan Africa posted by Lexie on March 21, 2004 at 20:17:44:

Hmmm... isn't everything for the poor eco in Africa?

I would interpret 'green housing' as either energy neutral housing or houses built with eco-friendly materials.

In my experience housing for the poor is almost invariably devoid of electricity or running water - they can't afford it. Also rural communities (not the houses themselves) tend to be self supporting in terms of food production. What might be interesting to look at is waste water (raw sewage) and plastic litter. Perhaps the 'Sewers in Djenne' project is something for you...

Regarding sustainable material use: I've seen many houses in Mali, Niger and Burkina that are made of mud-brick (seems pretty natural to me). Ít's used mostly by poor people because they can't afford fired brick or concrete. Sometimes the natives save a bit of money and produce their own bricks, which makes them even cheaper.

From an architectural standpoint however, it might be worth it to take a look at how these houses are used - in terms of occupational patterns during the day and night (they differ with the seasons), cooling, etc.

This site might be helpful: http://users.swing.be/geoffroy.magnan/mali/

good luck!

PS1: in africa everything is either old and working or new and broken. Lowtech is the thing to go for

PS2: I read this story a while ago: a European aid agency had sent volunteers to africa to build houses for the local poor. Proper sanitation, modern urban plan - all the things the locals lacked were tackled. The natives were very happy to move into the (rectangular) houses - if anything they were free - but one year after construction most houses were uninhabited and completely stripped. It turns out that the locals couldn't combine those square, isolated houses with their habitual patterns: very family (village) oriented and centered on ROUND houses.

So do your homework well...

 
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