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Bamboo Housing National Project
Costa Rica

Keyword: Poverty Eradication

Background

The National Bamboo Project was started in 1986 as a new technological approach to prevent deforestation in Costa Rica. The idea was to replace the use of wood with an alternative cost-effective and seismically sound building material. The project has been monitored in three phases. The preparatory phase saw the pilot-project being transferred from experiences in Colombia and Ecuador. During the following two phases an intensive construction scheme in the rural areas was developed including technical training, massive bamboo cultivation, community and labour organization, environmental assessment of the technology and production of furniture and handicrafts for export. The project has fostered the sustainable use of bamboo as raw material for an indigenous housing programme and for the industrialization and marketing of by-products. In July 1995 a foundation was setup (FUNBAMBU) to assist and eventually take-over the whole program, thus ensuring its sustainability. Up to now 700 low-cost houses have been built and 200 hectares of bamboo have been cultivated.


Narrative

The National Bamboo Project was iniciated in 1986 as a new technological approach to prevent deforestation in Costa Rica. The idea was to replace the use of wood with an alternative cost-effective and seismically sound building material. The project has been monitored in three phases. The preparatory phase saw the pilot-project transfered from experiences in Colombia and Ecuador. During the First and Second Phases an intensive construction scheme in the rural areas was developed including technical training, massive bamboo cultivation, community and labour organization, environmental assessment of the technology and production of furniture and handicrafts for export. The project has fostered the sustainable use of bamboo as a raw material for an indigenous housing programme and for the industrialization and marketing of by-products, thus giving low-income families the means of obtainig proper housing.

This organization, part of the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements, financed by the Government of the Netherlands, administred by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and HABITAT as the executive body, has developed a program that aims at solving the housing problems in Costa Rica, throuh the use of alternative building materials locally available.

Bamboo has also helped to solve other problems such as unemployment and deforestation, particularly protecting some river basins.
To date the project has achieved the construction of 703 houses in rural areas, among them the indigenous communities of Terraba, Rey Curre and Boruca.
The project is specially aimed at the low-income communities and has allowed the establishment of a system of comunal organizations . In many of these communities the system contributed to their development, not only to the building of houses, but also to road repairs, supply of drinking water, improvment of health conditions and comercialization of agricultural products.

During the first phase of the project 200 hectars of bamboo were cultivated. Besides the production of valuable building material, and contributing to continuos improvement of the environmental, the bamboo cultivated areas capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, contributing to preventing negative impacts of the green-house effect at the global level.

After a few years of implementation, this project has been widely accepted not only by Costaricans, but also by other Central American countries. As a result, a projects for these countries are being considered.

In July 1995, the FUNBAMBU Foundation was established with the goal of managing the project to ensure its sustainable implementation.


Impact

700 bamboo houses built
200 hectares of cultivated with bamboo
400 people trained in building, cultivating and crafting of bamboo


Contact

    Arq. Ana Cecilia de Soto
    Proyecto Nacional de Bambu, Apdo.21-1350
    San Sebastian
    San Jose
    Costa Rica
    (506) 26-39-39, 26-38-70, 26-48-48

Sponsor

    Proyecto Nacional de Bambu
    Apartado 21-1350
    San Sebastian
    San Jose
    Costa Rica
    (506) 26-39-39, 26-38-70, 26-48-48

Partners

    Proyecto Nacional de Bambu, San Sebastian, San Jose, Costa Rica
    Arq. Ana Cecilia de Soto
    Proyecto Nacional de Bambu, Apdo.20-1350
    San Sebastian
    San Jose
    Costa Rica
    (506) 26-39-39, 26-38-70, 26-48-4

    Ministerio de Vivienda y Asentamientos Humanos, San Jose, Costa Rica
    222 Paseo de los Estudiantes
    San Jose
    Costa Rica
    1002
    (506) 255-1976

    UNDP, HABITAT San Jose, Costa Rica
    Sra. Cuevas Cordero, Felisa, PNUD-Costa
    Apartado 4540
    San Jose
    Costa Rica
    (506) 236-7409, 253-8526, 233-2089,


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