Bamboo for housing in Ghana – scientists explore technologies and challenges

A bamboo house

A bamboo house

Ghana’s scientific community is sharing ideas on technologies and challenges involved in the efficient and sustainable use of bamboo for housing in the country.

Bamboo is widely regarded as an excellent substitute for wood in housing. Its use in construction has potential benefits in terms of sustainable use of timber resources, economic savings in construction and high strength to material weight ratios.

However, bamboo housing in Ghana is relatively low, mainly due to lack of innovation and appropriate technology for processing local bamboo species.

The 1st Bamboo Colloquium, sponsored by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) is on the theme “Bamboo Utilization for a Greener Construction and Future in Ghana”.

The aim is to build capacity for bamboo utilization in Ghana under the second phase of government’s action plan on the utilization of local raw materials in the building and construction industry.

The policy seeks to ensure that by 2015 at least 60 percent of indigenous raw materials are used in the construction of school blocks, market stalls, public toilets and affordable housing units.

Bamboo is one of the indigenous raw materials for the housing industry. Others include earth blocks, clay bricks, and pozzolana cement.

Dr. Yahuza Gomda, Director of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Ministry, has noted the increased use of durable local materials will reduce the import bill on building materials, retail capital, create employment for the youth and revitalize the environment.

“Government is really committed to this policy,” he said. “A lot of money has gone into training; a lot of people have been training on how to use the local building materials and a centre was built to train artisans at the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI)”.

Ghana faces an acute housing deficit of 1.7million units, especially in the urban centers – the cost of housing development is excessively high as most materials used are imported.

To reduce such cost, there is growing concern for the integration of bamboo as a material into building construction in Ghana.

This is spearheaded by the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (FORIG-CSIR).

Deputy Director of FORIG, Dr. Stephen Adu-Bredu says bamboo’s fast rate of growth is an advantage, hence the need to explore means to raise seedlings and sustain plantation.

“When you take trees, it takes 10-20 years before you get the product but bamboo 3-5 years you get a lot and the rate of growth is so fast – immediately you cut, it will be coppicing,” he observed.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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