Ethiopia: Prefabricated Houses for Broadening Housing Option

Addis Ababa (file photo).

Ethiopia is the second-most populous and the least urbanized nation in Africa. Nevertheless, the growth of urbanization, along with population growth, has been increasing at an alarming rate. Hence, the growing population and rapid rate of urbanization have placed ample pressure on housing, particularly amongst the lower-income people of the cities.

The challenges for lower-income households to obtain their own home are twofold: lack of affordable, good quality housing stock and the difficulty of gaining housing finance. Therefore, the process of urbanization in Ethiopia has come to be associated with tremendous socioeconomic problems such as the high value of unemployment, high incidence of poverty, poor sanitation, homelessness, and so on.

Besides, most of the houses in Ethiopia are below quality standards and lack adequate space. The extent of provision for water supply, electricity, and drainage is very minimal. The lives and health of people living in the housing of such poor quality and with such inadequate provision for water, sanitation, and drainage are under continuous threat.

In the developing world in general and in developing countries like Ethiopia in particular the number of people living in such conditions is increasing every year. In observation of access to basic services, the inhabitants of the city are severing from a lack of potable water, sanitation, transport, communication, drainage, education, and health facilities.

Studies have shown that without major improvements in housing markets and in the expansion and improved provision of infrastructure and service, it is inevitable that the population living in such environments expand very rapidly.

Addis Ababa as the capital city of Ethiopia is not free from housing problems. Housing is one of the major challenges of a city resident. Various efforts have been implemented to solve the housing problems nevertheless the demand and the need of the people couldn't be harmonizing so far.

Taking the rapid growth of the population and urbanization of Addis Ababa into consideration, efforts have been made to alleviate the housing issues of the city. The city Administration has also been exerting maximum efforts through its housing program. However, it has been a difficult task to satisfy the demand of the people.

The delay of the construction, the rise of price on construction materials, illegal occupation of the land and the house, not to build in accordance with the program and schedule, lack of quality, and so on are some of the problems which are mentioned in the side of the city administration.

More importantly, the city administration, along with 40/60 and 20/80 housing programs and facilities that encourage the private sector to investing in real-estate, has planned to build various types of houses for the people. Hence, the Addis Ababa City Administration has laid the foundation stone for the construction of 5,000 prefabricated houses in the Akaki Kaliti sub-city.

According to Addis Ababa City Administration Mayor Adanech Abebe, "we have made many efforts to address the basic housing needs of the city's residents nevertheless, it has been difficult to attain due to various problems."

Currently, the city administration has a plan to build prefabricated houses. So, 5,000 prefabricated houses will be built in the first phase of the construction which include four and nine-storey buildings for both residential and commercial buildings. The cost of the construction for the new prefabricated house is Birr 8 million, Mayor Adanech said.

In fact, prefabricated house construction is frequently acclaimed for energy efficiency and sustainable construction. Traditional construction techniques require extra materials that lead to increased waste. However, since prefabricated sub-assemblies are constructed in a factory, extra materials can be recycled in-house.

This is a considerable improvement over sending waste directly to a landfill from a traditional construction site. Also, the controlled environment of a factory allows for more accurate construction, tighter joints, and better air filtration, which in turn allows for better wall insulation and an increase in energy efficiency.

Studies have shown that conventional construction of houses with its high financial plan, longer construction time, large wastage, and high maintenance cost couldn't fulfill the demand of the high housing for the city population. Even though different methods were devised to reduce the downside of the conventional construction, these approaches like using different admixtures couldn't solve the problem to the needed extent.

Therefore, "using prefab housing technology decreases the cost of a home from 30 to 40 percent. A person could save 500 percent of the time it takes to build a conventional house. For example, one can have ground plus one house in 45 days using prefab technology. This saves cost both in terms of time and resources."

It is true that the effort of the city administration to build condominiums couldn't achieve the intended results. As stated by Mayor Adanech Abiebie, the previous housing projects have been costly, and the city administration has incurred more than 54-billion-birr debt.

Hence, the city administration has been developing various types of housing options since the housing project has not been able to sustain the many problems and debts it has in building the house. One of these is the need to build affordable and low-cost housing in the city budget. This will solve various problems associated with the construction of the houses, she said.

Addis Ababa City Administration with the Rank of Deputy Mayor Housing Development and Administration Bureau Head Yasmin Wehabrebi noted that 2 million houses are planned to be built in the city during the ten-year development plan.

Prefabricated houses, to this end, are necessary to address the problem of financial supply by reducing the cost of housing construction, to introducing new practices and options in the housing sector. So, it is necessary to expand the construction of prefabricated houses and other similar options.

Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation CEO Engineer Yonas Ayalew said that the necessary preparations have been made to complete the construction of the prefabricated houses on time. As the name implies, it needs to be done quickly, and efficiently.

Basically, cost and time matter in constructing houses. So broadening the construction of houses options are significant to fulfill the demand for housing. Hence, prefabricated house construction could be the best alternative to satisfy the demand for housing. However, the city administration Should take necessary precautions before, during, and after the construction. Because prefabricated houses need skilled human resources and better laboratory on the technology, sufficient allocation of budget by the government, and active involvement of all stakeholders to the development of the technology. It requires also community awareness since there has been resistance to change by different professionals because of lack of knowledge and fear of change.

BY EPHREM ANDARGACHEW

THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD SUNDAY EDITION 16 JANUARY 2022

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