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Bamboo housing: market potential for low-income groups

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The world population reached 6 billion in 1999 and at the current growth rate is estimated to reach 7 billion in 2010 with the overwhelming share in developing countries. However, the momentum of poverty alleviation in the developing countries has not kept pace with the population growth. This has serious implications on increased poverty in the regions. One of the visible indicators of the growing poverty is 'lack of shelter'.

Reports reveal that millions of people live in hovel 'life- and health-threatening homes', simply due to their inability to afford the houses. This demands seriously to look for an alternative housing materials that are cheap, widely available and require less technical know-how.

Bamboo has been found being an excellent building material due to its versatile characterises. It is estimated that more than a billion people live in bamboo houses, mostly in developing worlds. Additionally, its ecological and economical characteristics have made it a sustainable building material. In the past, bamboos were only used to build traditional hovel. However, it has gradually received an increased recognition as a building material. Few development organisations have initiated large-scale bamboo building programme to build houses for low to middle income groups. The projects were highly successful in achieving its main objective i.e. to provide shelter to poor families.

This paper mainly deals with the successful stories of three housing projects using comparative assessments of cost and technical aspects. The ultimate objective of the paper is overview the applicability and market potentials of those housing projects for low-income groups in other regions of the world.

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