Behind Uganda’s housing construction industry are conventional practices in the choice of building materials, particularly burned bricks (BBs) bonded together with thick mortar of up to 30 mm to erect walls for housing. Due to the growing population, the demand for houses in Uganda has increased in the recent years, increasing the demand for building materials. However, meeting this increased demand can speed up deforestation and worsen the effects of climate change since the firing of bricks in Uganda takes 5.7 times more energy than that recorded in the ICE database of general baked clay bricks in the UK.
Through a case study of ISSB construction operations by HYT Uganda (NGO) and Technology for Tomorrow T4T (Innovator) that involved unstructured field interviews, observations as well as documentary evidence, this research provided a holistic view into the problem of slow adoption of ISSBs as industry continues to use BBs and the findings were analysed by triangulation.
The study found that cost, durability, availability and acceptability by clients were the common reasons for material choice. However acceptability by clients was governed by their perceptions towards stabilised soil. From the field interviews, it was established that social attitudes point to stabilised soil as an inferior technology meant for rural settings while adding cement to soil is viewed as wastage. Hence the technology is perceived expensive and unaffordable.
The study concluded that, it is crucial for promoters to understand the local perception towards the ISSB technology and should therefore focus on educating clients as a first step. Client understanding of the ISSB technology as a sustainable and cost effective technology for building construction will go a long way in the adoption of this technology.
The implications for further research include (i) How ISSB promoters can best communicate ISSB technology to clients and (ii) The role of policy, legislation and government in promoting environmentally friendly building materials in Uganda.
Key words: Material selection, Tropical housing, Sustainability, Climate Change, ISSBs