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Main » 2012 » May » 5 » Self-initiated transformations of public-provided Dwellings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Self-initiated transformations of public-provided Dwellings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Author: Demissachew Shiferaw Cities, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 437–448, 1998
This paper discussed at the Study Seminar in Urban Planning Lab, School of Natural Science & Technology on Friday, April 26, 2012 by Pindo Tutuko
Self-initiated transformations of public-provided Dwellings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Abstract

Transformations of human settlements are very dramatic in cities of the developing countries where, despite the rapid urbanization process and demographic change, housing provisions fall short of demand. This results in continuous transformation of shelters in order to meet basic needs and changing situations. Unlike in the industrialized countries, this is largely accomplished through spontaneous private initiative. Thus, construction of new dwellings and also modification and maintenance of government-owned ones are private concerns. Especially the low-income groups have no alternative other than to use their own sporadic means. Encouragement and coordination of this enthusiasm by the formal sector is, however, scarce. As a component part of a Ph.D. thesis which involved field surveys from March up to July 1997 the following synopsis sketches user-initiated transformations on government-provided low cost houses in Addis Ababa. Information and figures are extracted from three of the studied residential areas and revealed the fact that self-initiated transformation represents a valuable resource for improving the housing conditions of the low income groups.

Background

Although direct government provision of low-cost housing has featured in the policies of most developing countries, it has been proved that this sector is unable to address the increasing housing needs of the poor.The vast majority of housing units are being constructed through self-help activities. Even if government-built low-cost houses are very few in number in Ethiopia, succeeding self-initiated modification and extension on given structures are taking place to the extent that the original structure becomes beyond recognition. The first unit becomes a core house.

Urbanization-Problem
  • Distribution of the urban population is unbalanced. 
  • Almost all infrastructural facilities and industrial activities are still concentrated in the capital city. 
Housing problems
  • Increase of household sizes 
  • The unbalanced housing investment. 
  • Poor housing in supply systems aimed only at both quality and quantity. 
  • Increasing housing stocks are, as labeled by the architect, planner and sociologist. 
  • 60% of the city population had no permanent work. Housing finances are not improved.


Self-initiated transformation of houses
People endeavor to shelter themselves and the way they build and improve their houses are clues to the design of low-cost housing and application of appropriate technologies and financial strategies.



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The inhabitants have apparently larger households and much lower incomes. 90% of the household heads and all other male dependents are daily laborers having no permanent employment. 


Evaluations and Implications of Transformations
  • The average occupancy rate of the three areas increased from 5.8 m2 per person to 6.5 m2 per person. 
  • The areas which were planned for residential purpose, now mix work and home life together.
  • Spontaneous extensions in planned areas are resulting in higher densities and lower standards. 
  • Unplanned extensions could overload existing infrastructures.

Aspect of Building
  • Building materials, traditional material which none of the projects took into consideration, the householders used the traditional construction method, and that fill the gap between import-based ones and the local ones. 
  • Morphologies, the habitable rooms are surrounded by subordinated functions and open spaces.
Factors influencing transformation:
  • Security of tenure. 
  • Housing design and construction of the original dwelling. 
  • Financial sources. 
  • Infrastructure and support services. 
  • Extent to which hired or self-help labor is used.

Transformation motives
  • Socio-culturally determined aspirations. 
  • Growth of family size. 
  • Desire of generating income (subletting, kiosk, 
  • Stable, local bar, handicraft etc). 
  • Response to harsh climatic conditions. 
  • Desire to copy prevalent housing forms.

Extension qualities

  • Transformations show inefficiencies related to quality and resource uses. 
  • The technical and financial requirements for vertical extensions, in particular for the low income people, can not be met. 
  • Materials used in spontaneous extension processes are not durable and sustainable and householders can not afford to buy durable ones.
  • Lack of lighting, ventilation, blocking of roads and open spaces are very prevalent, especially, in residential areas with narrow and small plots. 
  • Overcrowding, with little or no open space.





Concluding remarks
  • Even under the agonies of limitations, could use their sporadic potentials and make vital improvements to their own houses at no direct cost to the government. 
  • They improve their dwellings, provide shelter for their relatives, much better than the public systems could do. 
  • Generate income through subletting extended rooms and using part of the house for informal productive and business activities.
Strategies for tackling housing problems should recognize the social and economic realities and serve this part of the population by;
  • Mobilizing, coordinating and directing self-plan and self-build. 
  • Guarantying security of ownership. 
  • Use of resources such as land, affordable building materials and financial resources, 
  • Accepting the value of an incremental approach. 
  • Provision of technical assistance. 

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