8 June 2018

Ethiopia: Scheme Beyond Housing Provision

Condominium houses have brought about shift

High rise condominium houses have brought about shift in Addis's urban center in addition to offering descent living to the city's residents. Still, many condo-houses of various schemes are under construction with huge government.

The 10-90 housing program (where beneficiaries are required to save 10 percent of the cost while government covers 90 percent of it) scheme, for instance, targets low income residents of the city while 20-80 seeks to benefit the middle incomes ones. Further, the 40-60 programs is intended to participate the Diaspora and other section of the community.

Despite its significance in offering safe and livable house and residential area to households, the program has serves other purposes. It creates jobs to the youth, benefits female-headed houses holds (women empowerment) and promotes saving culture.

If we see just five of the mega housing development projects, underway in the city's major sections--Yeka, Bole, Lideta, Kirkos sub-cities and project 13, construction inputs and allied services are supplied by small and medium enterprises. About 1,223 associations have been formed and granted with financial supports worth 132, 024, 054 million Birr creating 24, 349 jobs, according to Niguse Tsegaye Manager of Akaki Kaliti Housing Development branch office. Collectively, the number of houses , under construction, stands at 50,112 estimated to serve 250,560 residents.

Up on completion of the projects, they would feature various services such as shopping mall, health center, kinde rgarten, elementary and secondary school, residential, green children playfield as well as other communal areas--and this improves the community hygiene. With strict control of the project office and the collaboration of construction and consulting companies as well as the enterprises, the projects are witnessing good progress, he explained.

Jantirer Abay, Minister of Urban Housing Development said that in fact, the projects cannot be viewed as constructional activities only; every party that is involved in the process also draws wealth of experiences out of it.

Limitation relating to capacity is among the toughest challenges facing the sector, he said, adding that construction and consulting companies are getting practical experiences as a result of the projects. Capacity limitation is a recipe to address myriads of problems. When projects fail to see finalization as per of schedule, it is hard to accomplish them on their originalcosts. Thus, the lessons would help to change this scenario though learned through the school of hard knock.


Why conserve Addis Ababa heritage

Addis Ababa is a city of surprises that are characterized by a remarkable diversity and contrast. It has rich and unique urban architectural heritages that are dating back to the end of the 19th century. Most of the cities heritages are built heritages which have historical and aesthetic values for the inhabitants of the city in particular and for the country at large.

As Arat Kilo and Arada/Piazza have been the political and commercial/cultural centers' of the city, respectively for more than a century, the most important historic buildings of the city are concentrated on these areas.

In the present day, the city demands rapid growth and vibrant development to improve its infrast ructure, housing, new businesses as well as commercial advancement. These development activities, such as, infrastructure development and urbanization are, however, now becoming big challenges for the built up heritages of the city.

Arat kilo victory monument

This is not only the challenge of the Addis Ababa city but also other cities of the country. For Addis Ababa and increasingly, for other Ethiopian cities such as Harar, Dire Dawa, Axum and Gonder, urban heritage conservation has become a relevant aspect of governance reforms: the so called "visible face" of governance according to Omina Aboukorah, 2009.

As heritages are the expressions of the past that links to present and future, the city has considerable number of architectural heritages. These precious assets are mostly aged and exposed to natural as well as man-made risks.

More than the natural phenomenon like high rain fall and sun, the building materials of the built heritages are mostly degraded by manmade factors. Developmental and Population pressure are the major factors that are threatening Addis Ababa's heritage today.

Now a day's, almost all public opinion agree that urban heritage conservation is important for each city development. It is not only Addis Ababa particularly faces the problems of urban heritage, but it is also an international incidence. Historic cities are currently facing great pressures resulting from the manifold need of mobility, economic activity, housing, the service society and other developments.

Therefore, safeguarding of the urban heritage is becoming a complex challenge and task. As Michael Haupl says, it needs the support of all stockholders to succeed.

As well, Architecture and Urban Heritage of a nation is a mirror of its history and civilization.

For that reason, the built up heritages of the city are a reflection which shows the city's progress in its history and the achievement in civilization. They are also important in showing artistic and aesthetic quality and original semblance of the city.

However, for the sake of development, heritages are now a day's demolishing. To develop the future we need to have and understand the past. Safeguarding the remains of past times helps to understand one's roots: these remains contain history and shape the urban patterns and their fabric. It is the continuity that makes a city unique, constructing an identity for inhabitants and getting the attention of foreigners and visitors.

The protection of historic districts is a very widely known practice since the 1960-70 in many cities of the world, the recognition and protection of such areas is almost absent in Ethiopian urban centers. The fate of built heritages will be highly endangered if a clear regulatory frame work is not urgently set for the conservation of urban heritage.

As urban heritage conservation defined in the above topic it is the protection of public wealth and common good, which is helpful to improve people's life quality, to enhance people's sense of belonging, and to evoke people's emotion.

This is to mean that if the principles of urban heritage conservation are to be implemented in Addis Ababa. First the heritages will be preserved and conserved. Secondly, the people life quality will be changed.

The conservation of cultural heritages is crucial factor in long term prosperity of a city and its residents. Effective heritage conservation, when it addresses the economic realities of an area, has the ability to improve social and economic situations and increase the pride and satisfaction of the residents, as Cameron notes.

International experience shows the old perception of costs versus benefits of heritage conservation gradually and dramatically changed with the increasing experience by city governments, practitioners, donors and international organizations.

Consequently, heritage conse rvation is now a key economic resource and a motor of urban development.

And according to the study of Abel Assefa, enhancing, renovating and developing heritage can lead to: new solutions for housing for the poor, it can transform cities physical environments, improving infra structure and public spaces, develop tourism and creates new jobs.

Furthermore, he says that it guides community based land readjustment and urban redevelopment and gives residences incentive to preserve their own city.

Seen as an integrated part of urban development, safeguarding heritage and applying the principles of urban heritage conservation to Addis Ababa brings with it added values. It makes distinction between the city and other international cities.

It also supports the economic development of the city by creating more jobs, ensures the improvement of run down premises and urban areas, makes certain the involvement of the community and private investment.

In summing up, Addis Ababa in its more than a century old history has many heritages which show the growth and development of the city. By conserving and protecting historically valuable buildings in the city, it is possible to revive traditional craftsman skills, develop tourism and generate additional income.

Innovative ideas and experiences on the preservation of historical cities and sites, buildings and the social fabric are required. Restoration project of the historic building and urban setting is an important activity in developing experienced and skilled man power.

Thus, urban heritage conservation is necessary not only for the purpose of effective heritage conservation but also for the purpose of sustainable development of the city.

(Compiled from 2015 Annual Magazine of Cultural Heritage Research and Conservation Authority, Abel Assefa)


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