One of the great challenges Mozambique has faced is sufficient and adequate quality housing for its 30 million inhabitants, especially considering that more than 60 percent live below the poverty line. Two thirds of Mozambicans live in rural areas, with restricted access to suitable materials and technologies for building decent houses. According to UN-Habitat Mozambique, 80,000 new houses are needed annually in urban areas to accommodate natural population growth arising from rural-urban migration, on top of the fact that about 80 percent of existing urban housing is informal and has poor access to infrastructures and basic services.
Towards a Solution
Aimed at reducing Mozambique’s housing deficit, the Support to the Urban Development of Mozambique project was implemented by the Brazilian state-owned bank Caixa Econômica Federal (CAIXA), the University of São Paulo (USP), the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and Mozambique’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing, with support from the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC). The project’s technical cooperation activities covered the five areas listed below.
- Formulation of a housing policy directed at low-income populations (the central objective of the initiative).
- Production of low-cost building materials based on locally available raw materials, and the structuring of associative rural microenterprises for this purpose.
- Development of building typologies for social housing.
- Establishment of a national information system on construction costs and indexes.
- Architectural plans for the renovation of a construction industry technology centre.
The project’s South-South activities included sharing knowledge between the two countries through the exchange of professionals from the Mozambican Ministry of Public Works and Housing and CAIXA. Technical visits to Brazil focused on learning about the country’s experiences and main actors involved in the five axes of the project. In turn, visits were made to Mozambique to diagnose local housing demands (urban and rural) and survey the existing material, technological and infrastructural resources related to the provision of social housing, as well as to train technicians and rural communities to ensure the sustainability of the initiative.
The project’s main achievements were:
- Approval in 2011 by the Council of Ministers of a Housing Policy and Strategy for Mozambique, developed with the participation of technicians and communities, through regional workshops and debates in different provinces, as well as a national seminar.
- Transfer of knowledge (through two training sessions and the preparation of manuals) about the production of machines for the manufacturing of soil-cement bricks and plant-fibre tiles (two low-cost materials suitable for the Mozambican reality). This capacity-building component included establishment of an incubator of popular cooperatives to produce adapted building materials in the Technology Centre of Namialo (Nampula Province), whose staff were also trained in management.
- Development of five model projects for low-income housing: three for rural areas, one for urban and suburban areas and one for people with special needs.
- Establishment of partnerships for the creation of a system for monitoring civil construction costs in Mozambique (SINAGEC), an adapted replication of Brazil’s congenerous SINAPI.
- Architectural plans for the renovation and expansion of the Technology Centre of Namialo, which will be focused on research and training in locally appropriate construction technologies (in collaboration with the Engineering Laboratory of Mozambique), seeking to strengthen the province’s rural microenterprises.
This South-South cooperation project was an award winner in the 2013-2014 edition of CAIXA’s Best Practices in Local Management Programme, which recognizes and disseminates successful social development experiences carried out with the financial or technical support of the bank.