Evaluation of natural building stones for sustainable housing in Juja, Kenya
Kirimi, Karambu Doris
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Construction materials constitute 60% to 70% of the total cost of building a house. Out of this percentage, about 60% is taken up by the walling materials for low cost housing. Kenya currently, is exhibiting a predominant use of quarried stones for all buildings; this has increased the cost of housing production beyond the reach of many Kenyans. Yet other alternative materials that are both environmentally friendly and economical exists but are not being used sufficiently to provide housing. On this understanding, the research project attempted to answer questions regarding, why the predominant use of natural stones, against other selected alternatives and proposed a framework for utilizing locally available building materials for sustainable housing. Factors that contributed to the over-reliance on natural stones were evaluated, along with some environmental and socioeconomic issues. Policies and institutional framework that contribute to the observed practices of housing construction were also evaluated. To achieve the objectives of the study, Juja location in Thika district in Kenya was the target area, where housing developers and providers, materials producers, the local government, and central government respondents, provided primary data through questionnaires, interviews, observation guides, and photography were utilized to collect primary data. Both systematic random and purposive sampling techniques were used to gather the sample from the target population. Data was analysed with the aid of computer packages: SPSS and Microsoft Word Excel. The generated output was illustrated in form of pie charts and histograms. The main limitation to this study besides insufficient time and money was that the respondents were not willing to give information as they felt that the information being sort was personal and sensitive; this was true especially for material producers/suppliers. The data derived from the research showed that the policies, laws and by-laws that govern extraction and utilization of building stones, encourage over-reliance on natural stones, environmental degradation and unsustainable housing production. These policies, laws and regulations also facilitate little social economic benefit to the communities living within the area. Information obtained from developers showed that the people, lacked sufficient information in choosing materials for house building. They choose to use natural stones, because they perceive them to be durable and of favorable maintenance quality, and as much as many respondents wished to use alternative materials, they lacked information on other viable products, especially the researched options. This has encouraged un-sustainability in housing production and use of materials of construction. A framework for encouraging production and use of other viable alternatives has been proposed. This product will involve planning and management of the potentially locally, available building materials in Juja; a framework that has the potential for being adapted country wide.