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Bamboo may be the answer to Ethiopia’s growing housing needs

June 22, 2016

A paper by IDRC partner the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan assesses the potential of bamboo to meet East Africa’s urgent housing needs. In this region, the supply of houses in rural and urban areas has failed to keep up with demand, leading to severe shortages of safe and affordable housing.

The Prefabricated Engineered Bamboo Housing for East Africa project, supported by IDRC's Climate Change and Water program, addresses these challenges. Authors Jacob Kibwage, Oliver Frith, and Shyam Krishna Paudel report in this paper that many rural communities in Ethiopia use bamboo extensively as a building material, and bamboo is used in a diversity of traditional housing designs. However, modernization, the decreasing availability of bamboo resources, increased rural populations, and lack of adequate processing skills and modern designs threaten the sustainability of Ethiopian bamboo architecture.

Despite these challenges, the authors call for further support from the Ethiopian government to promote bamboo in the construction of tourist lodges and low-income urban housing which would be a financially viable means of developing the bamboo construction sector.