Thursday, February 2, 2012

Unit 6: Spheres of growth

Overview of the unit
6.1   The promise of a healthy life
In this unit, we turn our attention to three areas that are vital for the development of societies. The first of these is health care. Good health is essential if individuals are to contribute to the progress of their families, communities and nations. In this section, we study ways in which AKDN agencies assist communities to improve their health care, through both prevention and cure of illnesses and diseases.

6.2   A head start in learning
Another vital area related in development is education. In a rapidly changing world, life-long learning has become essential for people in all countries. For communities to advance, children, youths and adults have to be equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills. This section focuses on some of the ways in which AKDN agencies help communities in developing countries to further their education.

6.3   Places for living
The provision of good living conditions for families is a third area that is central to development. These conditions include both the domestic surroundings and the wider environment which people share. The spaces in which we live and work have a significant influence on our quality of life. The final section of this unit leads us to examine examples of AKDN projects that have helped people improve their dwelling places.

The promise of a healthy life
The need for health care 
Health care is a basic need in all human communities, from the cradle to the grave. It is required both to prevent and cure illnesses and diseases.
In a community, people of different age-groups will have different health care needs. Mothers giving birth to babies, for example, require maternity care. Babies and toddlers also need special attention in the early years of their growth. Children and adults need dental treatment and eye care, and treatment of minor and major injuries or ailments. The elderly in the population are particularly vulnerable to illnesses and require regular medical attention.
Health care in a community may range from small health clinic and community health centres to large hospitals and specialised medical centres. These facilities will be staffed by qualified practitioners, such as health workers, nurses, doctors, surgeons or physicians, and specialist consultants.
Medical centres still have access to a wide range of medicines, drugs, vaccines and other treatments. They will also be fitted with the latest medical equipment and technology.
Health care in developing countries
In many developing countries large number of people lack basic health care facilities. Poor countries, in particular, suffer from high infant mortality rates and short life spans. Many people die in these countries as a result of killer diseases such as malaria, diphtheria, diarrhoea, cholera, and HIV/AIDS.
Compared to the industrial parts of the world, developing nations have far fewer number of health clinics and hospitals. They also face severe shortages of doctors and nurses, as well as medical drugs, to cater adequately for their population.
Health problems in developing countries are compounded by lack of awareness about basic hygiene in the poorer parts of population. Unclean water, diet and unsafe living conditions are also major factors that contribute to ill health.
The lack of' adequate health care in developing regions of the world has a severe impact on the quality of life of millions of people. Individuals become disabled through serious illnesses if left untreated. High death rates also deprive families and communities of valuable human resources.
Adapted from Save the Children Website,2003
Liberia's story
Living with the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic
In recent years, new global epidemics such as AIDS have arisen that have affected millions of people across the world. Almost severely affected areas have been the poorer regions of the world. Lacking the necessary resources and medical drugs, poor countries have been particularly vulnerable to global epidemics. In the following account, we learnt of the terrible price that families in Uganda have to pay as a result of HIV/AIDS.
Eleven year- old Liberia lives in the district of Arua, in northwest Uganda. Her father died of an AIDS related illness when she was two. Her mother also became infected with HIV and died of an AIDS-related illness when Liberia was six. Liberia and her 11-year-old sister live with their grandmother, who scrapes together a living by selling fruit at the local market and working as a laborer.
Liberia helps her grandmother with domestic work. Such as cooking, cleaning and fetching firewood. She also makes a little extra money by selling ground nuts. She has just finished her fifth year at primary school, where she is a member of a children's club. Members of the club meet regularly to discuss issues of concern, such as HIV/AIDS. They also visit other schools to perform songs and recite poems that explain the facts about HIV/AIDS and how to avoid it.
'When my mum and dad were dying, I felt like dying before them. So that they wouldn't leave me here. What l like most about them was the kind of advice they gave me. They told ne not to do wrong things, especially not to fight or lie to others. I always remind myself of them with their photograph.
'When my dad died, we stayed in the house he built for us. But when my mum died, we moved to my grandmother's place. My mum and dad wanted us to have the house, but my uncle took it and gave it to someone to rent, and he takes the money for himself. He doesn't visit us or give us any money. I think he should, because my dad gave money for his children, so he should really be able to help us.
'We don't have enough food because there's no one who can help us with money. We normally have supper but we only eat once in a while. My grandmother sells fruit. Sometimes she works in people's gardens, weeding cassava. She also fetches water when people are making bricks. She's not all that strong because she's getting old. She's 52, When my grandmother sells fruit, she gives us some money, and we buy ground nuts.
We fry them and pack them in plastic, and we sell them by the road side.
We also need money for school uniforms, socks, shoes, pants, school bags and math sets. And we have been told that this year we'll have to start school fees. There are so many pupils in the school, and we have been asked to give more money to improve things like the toilets, and to build more class rooms and houses for the teachers.
'There are 90- something pupils in my class, and learning is very difficult. We get very hot, and when children talk and make a lot of noise you can't read properly, and you can't concentrate on your studies. So when exams come up, you get very low marks. We also don't have enough teachers, because two of them have left school, and our English teacher was transferred, but there's no replacement.
'I'm supposed to go back to school next term with thousand shillings (about 40 UK pence), but I don't think I'll be able to pay the fees. We can't get money from anywhere. But I'll still go to the school, and may be they'll send me home.
'I want to study because I want to learn more, especially about the good things in this world. It makes me wish that my dad didn't die. If my dad was still alive, I think he'd pay my fees.
'I like going to the children's club. We normally visit other schools and give songs and poems to other children..... the other children who hear our songs, and poems feel that they are really being taught how to behave properly, and how they can protect themselves.
' I think it's good idea to tell children about AIDS, because then they can tell other children about it. We feel that AIDS has become a serious problem. It kills people and t makes people miserable. We think that God should decide when you leave this world not AIDS.'
Parveen's story
One important way in which diseases and ill health can be combated in developing countries is by education. This approach plays an important part in training of health care workers in the Aga Khan University. One of its programmes is concerned with bringing health care to families in the poorest parts of Karachi called the katchi abadis.
The babies in these areas suffer from a lack of protein in their diet. When the children are ready to make the change from drinking breast milk to eating food, the mothers continue to feed them on milk alone. They often do not have time to anything special for their infants, since they may be able to looking for a large family. As a result of not having enough protein in their diet, their children's growth slows down and affects their health.
In the following account, we found out how mothers are educated by health workers to help them bring up their babies in healthier ways. 
The training program for the group of young women was about to begin. These women who had never worked outside their homes, were to be trained as community health workers. All of them were discussing excitedly their reasons for having joined the training programme and what they expected to learn from it.
Parveen Benjamin, a 28 year old mother of six children, had her own reasons. I studied upto class ten. Then I failed in one paper, i wanted to study further to become a nurse, but I was married at an early age. For the last ten years, I have been taking care of children. Now I have a chance to serve people, and I would like to work.
Parveen began working in September 1987. Today the sector assigned to her showed remarkable results of her work. There are now no children under five years of age who suffer from (protein) malnutrition, just as there are no children who have not registered for immunizations.... it is to Parveen's credit that the weight and nutritional status of all the children in her area have improved. She explains the magnitude of her task.
'I was very eager to learn everything. I was assigned a large sector of 70 households. There were 112 children under five years of age. I wanted to apply whatever I have learned, especially about weaning. When I went to talk to the mothers, they had many questions and comments for me, such as- we have had so many children, and we never cook anything special for them before, they just grew up on milk."
"Some of them said, "all these things are for big people". We cannot care for our children in such a way. We have many things to do besides taking care of these children, and we do not have enough time. They will grow up the way the others did."
Many of the mothers in Essa Nagri are illiterate and when I told them about the weaning diet, this was something new for them. They said," our children are weak because they only drink milk, but when they are able to eat from their own hands, they will become alright."
'Some of the mothers listened to what I was saying and some did not pay much attention. But I had decided in my heart that I would make them listen to me and realise them the importance of health.
I started daily to malnourished children. In the beginning, I would cook khichri, sago, porridge or whatever was available in the house, and asked the mother to cook it the next time. I would take this cooked food and then I would feed the children.
'Sometimes, if I were late in coming, I would find that nothing had been fed to the child. The mother would say that she had been too busy, or that she was just about to start cooking when I came in. i would sit in the house and tell the mother: 'I am not going away until you have cooked and fed the child as I have shown you. "I would speak to them in such a way that they would not be able to say no to me.
'All the mothers cooperated with me, and in May 1988, there was not a single child with malnutrition. In the beginning, I had 70 houses with 112 children. Now I have 100 houses with 164 children and none of them is (protein) malnourished. All of them have been registered for immunization as well.
Its not easy to get people's cooperation in community. At first I thought that it was an impossible task. I had never done such work before. Some had such an attitude that I thought they would not allow me to enter their homes again. Some people did not listen to what I was saying.
Some of the mothers made fun of me and joked about it. They also said that "people have come before you to write down all the information. They have not done anything for us, so why should we expect anything from you? It is your job to go from door to door and fill in papers: there is benefit in this for you, maybe, but not for us."
'However, I kept on visiting all the houses. I made friends with the mothers. I convinced them that if they are healthy, they would also be happy and my reason for coming to their houses would be fulfilled. So now they listen to me when I talk to them about weaning for food and about immunizations.'

  • Magnitude- size, importance

  • Malnourished- suffering from a lack of adequate and balanced food diet

  • Protein malnutrition- a condition arising from the lack of protein in the diet

  • Sector- area

  • Weaning- helping an infant take take nourishment other's than its mother's milk

  • Weaning diet- food especially prepared for young infants that they can digest and which is nutritious
Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
Explain in your own words the 'basic health care'?
What is needed for a community to receive basic health care? What happens when these provisions are not available?
What kinds of factors add to difficulties of providing basic health care in developing countries?
How does poor health care effect the development and progress of communities in developing areas of the world?
Using the example of orphan Liberia, describe how a serious epidemic can impact the lives of families in countries such as Uganda?
What role does education play in the prevention of illness and the promotion of health?
Using Parveen's story as an example, describe how educating mothers in poor areas of cities such as Karachi can help reduce infant deaths and illnesses.
Do a case study for the Aga Khan University Karachi in terms of its various services. What kind of services does it treat? Which groups of patients does it serve? What are some of the problems it faces in providing health care to people?
Select an illness that poses a serious threat to the lives of people in developed or developing countries. Find out more about this illness and how it can be prevented? Design an information programme that will educate a target group about this illness.
Draw a chart which shows the basic nutrition a human body needs in order to grow normally and stay healthy. Explain why each food group is important to the functioning of the body. Find out which food groups are not easily available to people in poor areas of the world. What illnesses arise as a result of children and adults being deprived of these food groups?
What are some ways in which developing countries can be helped to provide basic health care to poor communities?

  • Infant mortality rate

  • Preventive health care

  • Remedial medicine
Find out which three diseases cause the most deaths in your country. Why do these diseases kill more people than others? What steps are being taken to prevent their spread?
Use your knowledge from biology to find out more about various types of bacteria and viruses that are the cause of serious diseases. How do vaccines help fight some of these diseases? Why have no cures been discovered as yet for diseases such as HIV/AIDS?
New drugs manufactured for combating illnesses are often quiet expensive for people in developing countries. Discuss whether companies who produce these drugs should make them available cheaply to poorer regions of the world.
Look at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals given on page 30. which of these goals are related to health? Which goals do you think can be achieved by the year2015?
Providing basic health care to communities poses a major challenge to developing countries. Community work and education can play an important role in reducing infant deaths and illnesses in poor regions of the world.

6.2    A head start in learning
The need for education
Education is a vital factor in human development. In the basic form, education means equipping people with the skills of reading, writing and numeracy. In terms of career growth, education involves preparing individuals for the world of work. At a broader level, education expands our knowledge of the world and gives us tools of thinking.
A sound education is a necessity in the modern world. It is required to earn a living, improve our standard of living, and supporting our family and community. In a rapidly changing world, education helps us to face new challenges that arise in our environments and to adapt to changing times.
The provision of education in a country is made possible through a system of good schools, teachers, books and resources. Universities and colleges play an important part in providing higher education. Governments also constantly review the quality of education in their countries, and try to introduce improvements through new policies.
Illiteracy in developing countries
Since their independence from colonial powers, developing countries have tried to provide universal education for all the children. To achieve this goal, they have had to build and train teachers.
However, illiteracy levels are still high in many developing countries. A large number of students only complete primary schooling and not able to pursue secondary education girls in general receive less education than boys do.
Developing countries suffer from a lack of schools, teachers and resources. A large percentage of people in poor parts of the world grow up illiterate.
Education and poverty
The lack of education has a direct impact on the quality of life of people in both developed and developing countries. Individuals and families become handicapped for the remainder of their lives. They are not able to acquire good jobs, or have access to information about wider world.
A lack of education also impact s on other areas of life, such as health, the upbringing of children and family support. Those lacking in education often find that they have limited opportunities for improving their situation in life.
Education saves lives
Education gives people new skills, and enables them to take advantage of new opportunities. For example, poor farmers can acquire better skills of farming through education. In Uganda, four years of
Primary education will help a farmer increase his harvest by 7 per cent.
Education gives people a voice
Education is important above all because it enable people to take control of their lives. It provides people with the self- confidence to make their opinions heard. It gives them skills through which to protect their rights. And it helps them to demand change from their governments for improving their lives and the lives of those who suffer from poverty.
Chemjor's story
Sixty year old Chemjor Chapkwony from Kenya never had a chance to learn to read. He tells of the effect that this has had on his life:
'I fell sick and was taken to the hospital, where I was given medicine by the doctor. I took the medicine he gave me and went to find a place to sleep.
'In the morning, the person I was staying with came to look for me and found me unconscious. He took me to hospital.
'Now when I am given medicine, I am afraid to take it, because I cannot read the label. So I am afraid."
(Source: Oxfam, 2003)
Hadi Gul's story
'My name is Hadi Gul. I am forty years old and mother of ten- four sons and six daughters. I live in Ghazni city in central Afghanistan. Every one of my children is illiterate, so is my husband. One day at a wedding, I met the head of ...... a literacy course (who) encouraged me to attend.
'I did not believe I would ever learn anything because I am so old. But in ten days, I learned how to count up to 100 and can write the name of my country 'Afghanistan'. There are 200 of us studying literacy......
'At first, mu husband did not let me go to the literacy course because he thought a 40- year old person was too old to learn. But I have found that many women are interested to join our class after they saw me write and count.'
(Source: IRIN, 2003)
Education Facts

  • Today, 115 million children across the world consisting of 65 million girls and 50 million boys cannot attend primary school.

  • Another 150 million children of primary age starts school, but drop out before they can read or write.

  • One in four adults in the developing world (872) is illiterate, and the number is growing.

  • Sixteen countries in Sub Saharan Africa have suffered a decline in enrolment rates.

  • Today, one- third of the total out of school population in the world is from Sub Saharan Africa.

  • In Africa, the crisis is getting worse. By the year 2015, a further nine million African children will be without an education.

  • Today, a child in Mozambique can expected to go to school for two to three years, as compared to 17 years for a child living in a developing country.
    (Source: Oxfam, 2003) 
The Madrasa Pre- School Programme in East Africa
Education is vital to the development of societies that find themselves living in poor regions of the world. One of the major objectives of AKDN institutions is to provide assistance to developing countries in the area of education. The educational programmes of the AKDN range from pre- school education to university level training.
In the mid 1980s, Muslim leaders from Kenya's coastal region asked for help in improving the education of their youth. The Aga Khan Foundation carried out a number of studies which showed that the problem of how students performed in school began when they were young. Their poor level at secondary level was due to the lack of good education at primary level.
The community leaders agreed with the AKF to began improving their education system by focusing on early childhood education. Poor families living on the coast would need to be convinced of the value of pre school classes for their children, as they were not familiar with this form of education.
Although resources were limited, physical facilities were available in madrasa (Quranic schools) which were largely unused in the morning hours. These schools would be ideal for teaching children about their religion and culture, and for preparing them for primary school.
Setting up the schools required the full support of the communities. Community leaders, local educators, parents and teachers all came together to get the programme started. The demand for the pre- school soon spread to one to ten madrasas along the coast. To run these madrasas, staff had to be trained, a new curriculum created, and materials gathered for class room activities. As much use of local people and resources were made so that the madrasa would become self- supporting.
The approach to teaching in madrasas took into account how young children learn. It was also based on what the parents wanted their children to learn. Children were encouraged to explore, investigate, experiment, make links, discover patterns and interact with other children, based on the activities planned for them by their teachers.
Teachers were trained to use appropriate teaching method in the madrasa so that the young could learn effectively one of tile teachers said.
'1 have learned that if you are a nursery teacher, you have to he at the level of the children you I would never have thought that I would be collecting bottle tops from the street, or rummaging through garbage for cartons and plastic containers, but these are materials teachers collect, clean, paint and use in their class rooms. The children are attracted to the bright colors: they see that learning can be fun."
In the following account, we learn more about the Madrasa Pre- School Programme in East Africa.
A new beginning
It was 5:30 am, on the spice island of Zanzibar, off the east coast of Africa,. Five years old Zulfa wiggles up from warm covers to face the widow. A little hole in the concrete wall of the house. Barely, lifting her eyelids, she filters in the bright glare of the morning sun, rubs her eyes clear off sleep and crawls off her sleeping mat. A new day, but will it be any more exciting than the day before?
Zulfa lives in the tiny village of Paje under cocnut trees under eastern shore of the Unguja, one of the two islands which , with Pemba, make up Zanzibar. Her day begins at 6:00 am, when she is sent to fetch water. Returning with a heavy bucket, she finds her little sister awake and crying with hunger. Her mother, gathering her sisal baskets, rushes for the beach where she will spend the morning collecting seaweed. The village women cultivate it on a plastic strings provided by the processing plant further up the coast. The tide won't wait.
Zulfa sighs and begins her daily chores. She feeds her sister porridge prepared the night before, and then sweeps the floor and washes the dishes. For one so young, she has many domestic tasks.
At noon, her mother returns discouraged with the small amount of seaweed, she was able to harvest before the tide came in. Zulfa listens patiently to the worried monologue, but as soon as she can, she darts out of the house. She longs for someone to play with. But the sand lanes are empty. All the children have chores to do.
As she watches her child run away, Hamida is aware that the challenge she and her husband face is similar to that of many other parents on the coast. How can they ensure that their children receive some form of education to prepare them for the future ? When seaweed is the main source of income, it is no wonder that parents dream of other jobs for their children.
Hamida and her neighbours share their concerns. Determine to secure better opportunities for the next generation. The villagers of Paje held a meeting. After much discussion, they agreed that establishing madrasa pre-schools similar to those in the village of Unguja , Ukuu Uzi some 25 kilometers away could be beneficial.
The community formed a committee, elected officers restored an old building and selected several motivated young women who had completed high school but were unemployed to train as teachers. The community thus put together all the elements needed to join the Madrasa Pre- School Programme....
Today, in addition to the traditional madrasa attended by all the children in the village after school, Paje has two well developed pre-schools. The schools are managed and financed solely by the community. There are currently 104 children enrolled, and seven teachers have completed their training.
When one visits Answariya or Muawanet pre- school in Paje, one hears laughter. Calls to friends fill the courtyard as children come running in, accompanied by parents or other caretakers. Pupils greet their teachers confidently, obviously eager for the morning routine to begin. Early arrivals play an outdoor equipment made by their fathers or with homemade bills. Others jump rope, sing in small groups, or sit in circles discussing what they will do during free play that morning.
Once class begins, the sound turns to a purposeful hum. Children are absorbed in painting, shaping objects with wet sands, pretending to cook, or talking on telephones, made from string, with plastic ice cream containers for receivers. Such learning experiences as emphasized during in service teacher sessions at three Madrasa Resource Centers in East Africa result in children growing more active, enthusiastic and confident.
The pre-schools in Paje have meant a new beginning for Zulfa and her friends. Zulfa still rises early each morning, but to bathe, get dressed and breakfast before school. Despite the additional chores, her mother's spirit is lighter. Like the other parents, she knows the importance of education for her children. And for Zulfa, for whom every day is still a new day, the new days are new beginnings- steps forward to a brighter future.

  • In service teacher training- training- training provided to teachers during their teacing career

  • Monologue - a type of speech in which a person talks to himself or herself

  • Processing plant – a factory in which raw materials are converted into manufactured goods

  • Sisal- fiber of a plant from which ropes, baskets and other items are made
Review questions and activities
Reflecting on the text
Why is education an important priority in developed and developing countries?
What is required for a country to provide adequate education to its population?
What are some of the consequences of illiteracy in developing parts of the world?
How does the lack of education contribute to poverty and ill health in poor communities?
Examine the figure given on page 139 under 'Education Facts'. What do these statistics? Reveal to us about the state of education in developing countries?
Describe in your own words the Madrasa Project in East Africa. In your view what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of this programme?
Do a case study of the education system in your country. What are some major problems it faces today? What improvements have been made in recent years? How successful have they been?
Make a list of skills related to reading; writing and arithmetic that you feel are essential for a person to have in order to survive in the modern world. What other skills do you feel are necessary?
Imagined you have been recruited to teach in one of the madrasa schools in East Africa. Make a lesson plan that will help you conduct a class for the young children under your care. What content will you teach? Why?
Girls generally receive less education than boys in developing countries. Devise a programme that will help to increase the number of girls attending school in a selected region of the world. What difficulties will you need to anticipate in your planning?
Key question
What are some of the issues faced by developing countries in the area of education?
Words to Look up

  • Early childhood education

  • Life long learning

  • Universal education
Draw a chart showing the various tiers of the education system of your country, from pre-school to university level. Roughly, what percentage of the population completes each level? What are some of the reasons for fewer numbers of people attending higher level of education?
Reflect on the education you have received so far in your life. How is it going to help you in your future? What further preparation do you need to become equipped for the future?
If a country has limited resources, which level of education should be given priority? Why?
What matters most in providing good education: teachers, books or school?
Education is an important priority in developing countries to help reduce poverty and illness, and to improve the quality of life.

6.3    Places for living
The need for shelter
Decent housing is another basic necessity that influences the quality of life of a community. Both the internal living space of our residence and the external environment that we share with others have a major impact on our lives.
The spaces in which people live and work are intended to protect them from the forces of nature.
Depending on the geographical area, buildings shelter people from rain, sandstorms, snowstorms and extremes of heat and cold. Living spaces also provide vital amentias, such as water and electricity, and have facilities for waste and sewage removal.
In many countries around the world, people live in housing that is of poor quality. Families dwell in domestic spaces that are crowded, noisy and unclean. Millions of poor families in developing countries are forced to live in slum areas. In the rural areas too, villagers and farmers reside in domestic quarters that are not supplied with water and electricity.
Poor living conditions have a major impact on the health and well being of families and communities.
Issues related to the built environment
The built environment is the habitat created by human beings in which we live. It consists of the villages, towns and cities which are home to us. We spend our entire lives in these environments.
The built environment in the urban areas is a major issue for people in many parts of the world. Large cities with growing populations suffer from noise, pollution and over crowding. They consist of spaces and buildings that are often not sensitive to the needs of the people who live and work there.
An increasing number of people are asking how we can create environments that are humane and enabling, and foster a sense of community. In developing countries, city planners and architects are increasingly looking for ways to be creative by respecting local cultures and making use of local resources.
In the following case study, we examine how the Aga Kha Planning and Building Services (AKPBSP) are helping mountain communities in Northern Areas of Pakistan to improve their living quarters. This project which was set up in 1998, is known as Building and Construction Improvement Programme- (BACIP).
Homes in mountains
What are the conditions in this region?
The Northern Areas of Pakistan has a rugged and rural landscape. In the desert mountain climate, the people endure extreme conditions of very cold winters and very hot summers.
Approximately one million people live in this area. They are gradually being affected by the construction of new roads and modern communications. Most families, however, continue to lead a traditional and rural way of life.
Many small villages can only be reached by footpaths and mule tracks. Men, women and children collect and carry firewood on their backs to be used for heating and cooking, sometimes over distances of 15 km.
The majority of people in the area make their living as farmers. They find it difficult to generate enough income for health care, education and new housing. With population growth, there is less and less land and resources available for housing construction and heating.
How do people spend the winter?
In most villages the, the winter climate averages between 5C and minus 20 C. with limited resources, the winters are an extremely difficult experience for the people. Villagers spend most of their time indoors around the bukhari or stove.
Many villages become inaccessible due to snow and road conditions, which means that villagers have to survive on dried fruits and vegetables which they store each year.
In the larger towns, some people use kerosene heaters but the majority of people rely on firewood for heating their homes. Schools are shut down for two months every winter because of the difficulties students face in travelling and staying warm at school.
How are houses constructed in Northern Pakistan
In the past there used to be an abundance of wood and people used to build houses together as a community. With a growing population, lesser timber from trees, and knowledge of new building methods, the construction of houses has become much more complicated and expensive. Most families build their homes independently now.
The traditional houses are built using a mix of stone and mud masonry which acts as good insulator of warmth in the winter. To further reduce heat loss, the houses are built to minimize the exposure of the surfaces to the outside. Houses often had no windows other than one opening in the roof.
The layout of the house
Traditionally, housing in the Northern Areas consists of one room house where the entire family eats, sleeps and cooks.
The bukhari, or wood burning stove, is placed in the middle section of the room where it doubles as both a heater and cooking stove.
The roof opening found directly above the stove, is often the only source of light and fresh air. It is also the only outlet for smoke. Located at the highest point in the roof, the hole lets viewable warm air space.
Around the central area are raised platforms that serve as living, sleeping and storage spaces.
What type of life do people lead?
Communities in this area, as in many other parts of the world, are made up of extended and joint families. An average of eight to twelve people lives in one house together.
Women and young children spend the greatest amount of time indoors- an average of fifteen hours in summer and twenty one hours in winter inside the house.
To keep the house warm, families spend at least four hours each day collecting firewood. They often have to walk long distances to gather wood for cooking and heating.
What are major problems with these types of houses?
Indoor smoke and soot
Most houses are filled with smoke from bukhari which blackens the walls and ceilings. The smoke leads to eye irritation, respiration problems and unhealthy living conditions, especially for women and infants who spend more time indoors. Many young children suffer from asthma and redness of eye.
Leakage and drainage
After heavy rain or snow the whole roof structure becomes soaked and usually leaks. This causes the wood and branches in the roof structure to rot. The water seepage mixes with the black soot in the ceiling, which then drips into the living area.
Lighting and Ventilation
The open hole in the centre of the ceiling is often the only source of light and ventilation. With no other windows, blackened walls, and little electricity, the lighting in the houses is very poor.
Unstable structures
The walls have poor foundation and are built with loose rubble and un cemented material. The heavy stone walls are traditionally bonded with wooden tie beams, but this is no longer practiced because of the high cost and low quality of wood available today.
There is no additional reinforcement, which often leads to structural damage during minor earthquakes. Many houses have visible cracks on the walls.
Poor insulation
Stone walls have poor thermal insulation. The elderly suffer from constant joint aches and pains.
Lack of sufficient storage
With crowded living conditions, there is very limited space available for utensils, quilts and blankets, or any other family items. As a result, kitchen supplies and bedding materials are usually left on the floor in the corner of the room where they get damped or dirty.

  • Asthma- a disease often caused by allergy, that leads to breathing difficulty

  • Inaccessible- unable to be reached

  • Masonry- stonework

  • Seepage- slow leaking

  • Structural damage- damage to the walls and supporting parts of the building

  • Thermal insulator- material that prevents loss of heat
Examples of improvements
The poor housing conditions in the northern Areas have a major impact on the quality of life of people in the region. After it was set up in 1998, BACIP began consulting the communities about possible improvements that could be made to their houses. With the help of villagers, BACIP developed over forty products that could directly improve the conditions inside their houses, as well as strengthen the external structures. The following are some of the improvements made to the houses.
Roof hatch windows
Where once there was a direct opening in the centre of the roof, now there is roof hatch window. Designed to fit within the traditional layout and roof design of the house, it is placed above the central opening in the traditional room. The angled glass design increases the light and warmth inside the house and the pivoting hatch opens up with a cord, allowing for ventilation. A flat sheet shutter on the top of the roof hatch provides additional protection at night.
Waterproof roof
The traditional way of making roofs waterproof is by using layers of soil and clay. This makes them very heavy and increases the load on the house walls. Houses can suffer greater damage from earthquakes. When it snows or rains, the clay becomes wet and the roof unusable.
The new roofs used plastic sheets, good drainage and lighter materials; the roof is kept as dry as possible, making it better insulated and more usable.
Wall insulation
The traditional materials of stone and mud used to build walls are used as natural insulators. To provide additional insulation to the houses, a low cost wall insulation was developed by BACIP. This wall insulation can be applied to both existing and new houses. It combines plastic with local materials such as grass or wood shavings. The insulation helps reduce the loss of heat from the houses during the cold winter months.
Wall reinforcement
Traditional houses in the northern areas can suffer serious damage from earthquakes. Reinforced concrete can make walls stronger, but is too expensive to use in these remote areas.
A better solution is the use of wire mesh to reinforce the walls, increasing the stability and strength of the buildings. The wire mesh strengthens the dry stonewalls by linking the stones vertically and horizontally, providing greater protection against earthquakes. It also allows the building of two-storey houses.
Bedding rack
The bedding stored in the piles on the roof collects dust and mildew. Constructing an open shelving rack in the house allows the heavy cotton – stuffed quilts to be neatly stored. The racks create extra space and allow quilts to ventilate.
Utensil cabinets
Kitchen supplies and cutlery items , usually laid out on the dusty floor in the store or in the corner of the room, are now stored in dry, ventilated shelving unit. By providing an extra storage facility, the utensil cabinet creates valuable space in the house.
Smoke efficient stove
The traditional bukhari (stove) began replacing the open fire system in the traditional house about ten years ago. It helped to control the smoke and reduced the amount of firewood being used.
A new stove developed by BACIP is an improvement on this design. It uses less fuel and reduces the amount of firewood being used.
Water warming facility
Without warm water, it is extremely difficult to bathe or wash dishes and clothes in the winter time. Hot water can be produced by attaching a pipe from the water container to the stove where it coils around the inside cavity. When the stove is in use, it is constantly warming the water in the tank. This simple idea has proved extremely popular.
How are the products developed?
It usually takes BACIP at least one year to research, design, test and manufacture the products. Each design can be further improved at village level by the villagers. As much, local material as possible is used in the house improvements. The products are often built by local craftsmen, making it affordable to most people.
Not everyone, however, can afford the improvement products. Local village organisations provide loans and credit schemes which people in need may use.
What other products are designed by BACIP?

  • Leakage control

  • Roof and floor beams

  • False ceilings

  • Dry pit latrines

  • Double pane windows

  • Different types of adobe blocks

  • Construction tools such as concrete quality tester and wheelbarrow

  • Damp-proofing foundation

  • Storage containers fro foods

  • Kitchen workshop

  • Solar fruit dryer 


  • Mildew- a type of fungi that grows in damp places

  • Pivoting- hinging

  • Rack- a framework of rails or bars for storing objects

  • Shutter- panel on a window that can be opened or shut

  • Wire mesh- interweaving wires forming a metal net
Do the housing improvements have any other impact on the community?
Feedback from the community indicates that the BACIP products and solutions have had a big impact on living standards. Houses are not only warmer and brighter and more structurally sound, but the improvements have affected other aspects of village life as well.
Better health
By improving the ventilation, lighting, heating and cleanliness inside the house, family health has considerably improved. It has reduced the number of illnesses and money spent on health care.
Greater savings
The added insulation to the houses has reduced the average use of wood by a typical family by as much as 50 kg. families have benefited by spending less time collecting firewood. Less money is spent on keeping the house warm and on paying on health care. As a result families have more time and money that can be use in doing work that earns them extra income.
Better living conditions for women
Without having to collect as much firewood, women find they have more time for stitching, embroidery, reading or getting involved in cottage industry activities.
Better indoor living conditions affect women and children most directly, because they spend the greatest amount of time inside the house.
Women are directly involved in research and development of the house improvement products and solutions. This involvement increases their decision-making power and status in the household.
What the villagers have said about the improvements

  • 'In winter, we close the vent and the inside temperature remains warm. It has also helped in stopping rain water from the roof opening.' (Murtazabad)

  • 'The house is warmer than before and there is no rain water leakage.' (Ghulkin)

  • 'We don't need to make a fire in the house after the installation of the roof hatch window and my family spends most of their time in this house.' (Sherqilla)

  • 'The house is warm due to insulation. We now use less bedding and wood for fuel during winter.' (Ghulkin)

  • There is more light than before because of the roof hatch window.' (Dirbarkolti)

  • 'There is less joint pains and the house is warm and comfortable.' (Murtazabad)

  • 'Our house has a severe dampness problem which has ended since the insulation was installed.' (Murtazabad)

  • 'I never used to stitch before but now I have started and its easy to do in the house. My children also feel that it's easy to read in the house because there is more light.' (Sherqilla)

  • 'It has been good for the eyes, the bedding also stays cleaner and there are fewer diseases.' (Sherqilla)

  • 'The house is warm, so the kids don't get sick.' (Dirbarkolti)

  • 'I have allergies from the dust and BACIP helps reduce dust in the house.' (Ghulkin)

Review questions and activities 
Reflecting on the text
What is the built environment? What importance does it have for development?
What impact does poor housing have on the lives of people who live in deprived conditions?
Describe in your own words the house improvement programme carried out by AKPBS in the Northern Areas of Pakistan?
What are some major problems people in this region face with respect to their houses?
What kinds of improvements to the houses have been brought about by BACIP?
What impact have these improvements had on the life of the villagers?
How else could the domestic space of the villagers be improved?
Imagine you are part of BACIP team. Devise a list of questions that you would like to ask the villagers about problems they face with their houses.
Examine again the products and solutions developed for houses by BACIP. For each one think of alternate solutions that can be produced. What kinds of resources, materials and skill will be needed for these solutions to be practical and affordable to the villagers?
Create a model of an improved house for the Northern Areas using some of the ideas you have learnt about in this section, as well as your own solutions. You will need to do some research on this region before you build your model.
Make a questionnaire that will help you evaluate the products developed by BACIP. What kinds of questions will you ask the villagers to find out the extent to which the products have improved their houses?
Why are domestic spaces and the built environment important areas of development?

  • Built environment

  • Domestic space

  • Habitat
Examine the different types of residential buildings in your local area. What kind of living conditions do they offer?
Compare the architecture of houses in two selected parts of the world. How are the houses adapted to the cultures and ways of life of the people in each region?
'By introducing new solutions, development agencies affect the traditions of the people.' To what extent do you agree with this statement? Discuss the reasons for your views.
In what ways can the built environment in cities be improved to help city dwellers live in better conditions?
Improving the built improvement can have a significant impact on the quality of life of people.
Review of Unit6: Spheres of growth
Review questions
6.1   The promise of a healthy life
Explain in your words the term 'basic health care'?
What is needed for a community to receive basic health care? What happens when these provisions are not available?
What kinds of factors add to the difficulties of providing basic health care in developing countries?
How does poor health care affect the development and progress of communities in developing areas of the world?
Using the example of the orphan, Liberia, describe how a serious epidemic can impact the lives of families in countries such as Uganda.
Using Parveen's story as an example how educating mothers in poor areas of cities such as Karachi can help reduce infant deaths and illnesses.

6.2   A head-start in learning

Why is education an important priority for people in developed and developing countries?
What is required for a country to provide adequate education in its population?
What are some of the consequences of illiteracy in developing parts of the world?
How the lack of education does contribute to poverty and ill health in poor communities?
Describe in your own words the Madrasa Project in East Africa. In your view, what are strengths and weaknesses of this programme?

6.3   places for living

What is the built environment'? What importance does it have in relation to the development?
What impact does poor housing have on the lives of people who live in deprived conditions?
Describe in your own words the house improvement programme carried out by AKPBS in the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
What are some major problems people in this region face with respect to their houses?
What kinds of improvements to the houses have been brought about by BACIP?
What impact have these improvements had on the life of the villagers?

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