Our Guest Speaker was the General Manager of SALHOC, Mrs. Lavern F Buya-Kamara. She started off my making the point that “Shelter is never a luxury, rather a necessity of which everyone is entitled to”. However this has being a serious challenge in Sierra Leone especially in the capital city Freetown. She gave several reasons:
- Housing investment is not attractive to the Private Sector
- Cost of Finance from Commercial Banks is at an average rate of 23%
- Urban sprawls –41% of the total population of 7,092,113 reside in urban areas.
- Foreign Investors and Real Estate Developers require Sovereign Guarantee to invest in extensive housing projects which Government is not in a position to offer.
- Disproportionate allocation of State Lands in the Western Area
- Low income level of citizens across the Country.
The Sierra Leone Housing Cooperation, in order to address some of the issues above, encourages the use of local building materials. They believe this will address in particular, the high costs (based on imported building materials) and effective housing systems.
Therefore the encouragement of the use of appropriate local technology using laterite and cement to prepare stabilized soil bricks has the potential to providing cost of providing cost effective housing system. The technology for these blocks are based on that of Latin American Engineer –Raoul Ramirez (Cinva Ram Bricks)
Encouraging the use of local building materials will also see reductions in costs, making unaffordable housing, affordable.
In addition to this, SALHOC has created mediums through training of local house builders that would also serve as agents to our objective and thus creates employment for themselves.
Despite being constrained by finances, Mrs. Buya-Kamara is satisfied with the significant strides they have made. She informed the audience of a 3-bedroom house at Kissy Low cost Estate (east end of Freetown) built using bricks made with local raw materials. 669 houses of a similar model have been mortgaged to sitting tenants with more projects and activities in the pipeline.
In concluding Mrs. Buya-Kamara listed the significance of encouraging and indeed developing the use of local construction materials as follows:
- Availability of laterite soil -on site materials can be used
- Adaptive temperature mechanism
- Bricks are strong, stable, water resistant and durable
- Fire resistant
- Sound resistant
- Create jobs and livelihoods
- Reduce cost of construction