COMESA Workshop in Nairobi draws participants from seven countries

Kenya StakeholdersThe “Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa” (COMESA) has taken the initiative of promoting the production and use of “Appropriate Building Materials” through “Small and Medium Entreprises” (SME).  They have started with a study of the current situation of those materials and technologies and are now moving into making recommendations to the member states. Recently a four day workshop in Nairobi assembled some 40 participants from seven countries.

The “Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa” (COMESA) has taken the initiative of promoting the production and use of “Appropriate Building Materials” through “Small and Medium Enterprises” (SME).  They have started with a study of the current situation of those materials and technologies and are now moving into making recommendations to the member states. Recently a four-day workshop in Nairobi assembled some 40 participants from seven countries.

Colaboración Sur-SurNairobi, the capital of Kenya was an adequate place for this first workshop of high level technicians, this being the city with the largest slums in Africa. The area called “Kibera” stands out in the heart of modern Nairobi, where in a 10 square kilometers area 1,300,000 people live and survive in all kinds of huts. The lack of drinking water, electricity and a sewage system means a disaster of big scale.

The participants discussed the multiple barriers which the “appropriate technologies” are constantly faced with, more than anything the ones based on the different construction codes that remain being the ones made for the houses built by Europeans during the colonial time, but also the lack of adequate presentation of these technologies. The use of words like “low cost” where criticized because they create an automatic rejection within the population. An analysis was done about the history of the introduction of these technologies, in the majority of the cases failed due to deficient technologies and lack of social awareness.

EcoSouth presented the “state of the art” of various EcoTechnologies, which sparked a lively interest in many participants, mostly because the focus is not about doing something “cheap” but about mature technologies that can compete in the market.Notas


A discussion about available credits for small entrepreneurs and popular housing was lively and emotional, especially because of the big difference between needs and possibilities. Another “hot” them concerned the lack of land and the possibilities for the popular class to buy a plot. In addition to the reality that the good land near the cities is in hands of private investors and are expensive, in the most of the countries the traditional system of tenancy of land continues where the “chief of the tribe” has the power over the use of the land. However, the case of Mozambique was noted with interest, where the state is the owner of all the land and distributes it for personal use to the population.

Parallel to the discussions in plenum many informal meetings where held. Among the results was that the EcoSouth Network agreed to cooperate with various state and private institutions, as well as the pleasant news that the coordinator of the program will attend EcoMaterials 2005 and will present the COMESA initiative.

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Consultants

Orlando Espinosa
Cuban
Civil Engineer
Spanish, Russian, some English.
Equipment development, MCR workshop installation, operative project implementation

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