With this post we welcome you to the Fall posting season, and my More than A roof, Building Communities series looking at the approach, principles and lessons learnt related to social housing.
Now to continue with the principles…..
5. [ASSURE] QUALITY
> ASSURING GREAT QUALITY IN MATERIALS, CONSTRUCTION, OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATION
> PROVIDE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE
There is a need to have transparency in information sharing, management and access to information; this includes communication and a more open sharing of information between various actors and organizations. In many cases, this cross-pollination doesn’t happen that often and instead of consolidating resources and becoming more efficient and effective by building on each other, organizations are very territorial and tend to try and reinvent the wheel every time.
> BUILDING ON KEY PARTNERSHIPS TO COMPLIMENT KNOWLEDGE, RESOURCES AND EXPERTISE
For example, in this particular project, we teamed up with Handicap International for multiple training sessions for our architects and engineers in order to gain a better understanding of accessibility issues within the neighborhoods, and get a better notion of existing standards and solutions.
> EVALUATING BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER, SHIFTING AND MOLDING LESSONS LEARNT!
6. [SEAK] APPROPRIATION
> INCORPORATING PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES IN ORDER TO DIRECTLY RESPOND TO COMMUNITY VALUES AND NEEDS
Once again, communication between various actors, agents and particularly with the community is key to the success of any project. Stakeholders and communities should during both the design and implementation of the project by conducting surveys and organizing focus groups to hear feedback from members of the local community, and involving them directly in the design, construction and local governance of the project. In this respect participatory planning is key in order to address the local needs and value sets of communities as well as create site-specific designs that are relevant to the politics of place, culture and create the necessary appropriation aspects necessary for long-term sustainability.
Contingent on the latter, information centers and call centers that are open to the public are very useful in order to create transparency, access to information and control rumors.
In the 16/6 Project, we stressed incremental housing strategies in order to provide an initial core that families can slowly expand and adapt their houses adapt to better suit their resources and needs. This was necessary in order to challenge the paradigm in the neighborhoods, showcase alternatives, improve the existing construction practices (strong vocational training programs were done for all masons, as well as pamphlets and guidelines for beneficiaries and the overall community), and assist the government in establishing new housing standards, etc.
Participation and inclusion are essential, and need to be an integral part of the process. Nevertheless, it is important to note there are various levels of participation varying between a bottom -up and owner driven methods to more top-down approach in terms of the construction. Through incremental housing strategies, this project included future residents and community members in the design and implementation process (through an initial contribution in terms of materials, doors and windows for the house and sweat equity through the participation of one representative in the construction process; families were also required to participate in all of the training sessions on habitat, health, sanitation, construction, etc.). Depending on the context and situations, some methods can be more appropriate than others; I do not believe we can be dogmatic about one or the other.
Stay tuned for the final piece- part 4!