Environmental sustainability of construction practices in informal settlements

15 Oct 2021

PURPOSE : Construction practices used in the development of self-help housing and upgrade of informal settlements are believed to have negative effects on the natural environment. The purpose of this paper is to examine this idea by conducting a study on purposely selected informal settlements located in Mbabane, Kingdom of Eswatini, to determine the environmental sustainability of construction practices used in these areas and to offer an approach that can mitigate the environmental degradation witnessed in informal settlements. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : The study comprised of three major components – literature review, situational analysis and research output. A literature review informed the extent of the problem and served to identify categories of assessment. A situational analysis of construction practices in informal settlements was done through the use of a structured checklist tool. Pattern matching was used as an analysis to evaluate the environmental sustainability of the identified construction practices. FINDINGS : Empirical results indicate a lack of environmental sustainability in the identified construction practices used. The challenges identified included the wrong choice of building material, inefficiency in energy use, a threat to biodiversity, poor planning and a lack of construction control measures. The research output was a framework encouraging affordable, sustainable and regenerative construction practices believed to be a viable solution to the environmental challenges within informal settlements. It was concluded that current construction practices used within informal settlements lead to negative environmental effects. ORIGINALITY/VALUE : The framework offered in this study is believed to mitigate the negative effects on the natural environment in informal settlements.