Habitat Observatory

    Locally available Climate Friendly Building Materials and Technologies used in Rural Pakistan
  A school for underprivileged village girls in Pakistan has practically shown how rural areas in developing countries present a tremendous potential for sustainable habitat development using eco-friendly, disaster resilient building materials and technologies. When the residents of Jar Maulwi built seven additional classrooms in Tipu Sultan Merkez School to accommodate the growing student population, they decided to use locally-sourced cob (clay, sand, water, and straw) and bamboo as raw materials for construction. The architects worked hard to increase cob strength and durability. The building has been designed to mitigate earthquake risks and a strong brick foundation has been laid to protect the building against moisture from soil and rainwater.

Further, the architects have designed the school building in such a manner that in the hot summer months, the humidity absorbed by the ground as a result of night time cross ventilation is released into the air during the day time. This process helps in cooling the interior air to around 8°C below outside peak temperatures.

In 2011, the school won the Asia Pacific Holcim Award for sustainable construction. Wowo Ding, Head of Holcim Award Jury and Dean of Architecture at Nanjing University, China, praised the project for promoting use of resource efficient, locally available construction materials and practices. She said, “The new construction approach shows the rural community - an affordable, high quality and durable alternative compared to widely-used but higher costing and less environmentally-compatible construction materials.”

A key message for policy makers is that innovative solutions being researched and tried by grass root institutions need to find a place in policy provisions, so that locally applicable technologies can be effectively implemented.

    Mobile water treatment system launched in Assam
  In April 2012, the State Public Health Engineering Minister of Assam launched five mobile water treatment plants to provide people with portable drinking water at the time of floods. One of the plants has been placed in Barak valley and the rest four in Brahmaputra valley. Earlier during floods in the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys, the local communities would have a tough time finding clean drinking water.

The mobile water treatment plant is mounted over a truck and has the capacity to filter 2,000 litres of water (around 8000 glasses) per hour. It can also package the water hygienically in poly packs which would make distribution at the time of floods easier.

The mobile water treatment plant comprises of a multi-grade feed pump, filter unit, reverse osmosis unit and an ozonator. The system is designed in such a manner that it collects raw water from underground sources and finally delivers pure drinking water after the entire filtration process.

The purification technology can effectively deal with physical, chemical and biological contamination ranging from septic tank discharge to groundwater mixed with sewerage, industrial site waste (in the form of silt, sand, alkali, oil& chemical) and bio-degradable and non-biodegradable organic wastes. The cost of each plant is INR 90 lakhs and can easily cater to the need of portable drinking water in flood affected areas.