An investigation of perceptions on the suitability of rammed earth in the construction of affordable housing units in Zambia.

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Simbeye, Raphael
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The University of Zambia
Housing is one of the basic necessities of mankind known to affect human health and well being. Since 1964, Zambia has been struggling with the provision of housing in urban areas. Zambia’s urban population rose by 52% from 5,173,450 to 7, 844,628, between 2010 to 2022. The current housing deficit is estimated at over 2,000,000 housing units compared to 860,000 units estimated in 1996. This study aimed at exploring the use of stabilised rammed earth in the construction of affordable housing units in Zambia. A mixed method approach of both qualitative and quantitative analysis was adopted, with data collected using a questionnaire as well as laboratory tests. In establishing public perception on the use of rammed earth, a total of 104 respondents were sampled. Furthermore, in assessing the properties and suitability of rammed earth for housing construction, soil samples were collected from four different locations within study area. The study revealed lack of legislation on rammed earth construction, and that the public perceptions on the use of rammed earth is mixed. Whilst there was some considerable level of agreement on its advantages mainly in terms of lower cost of construction, thermal, fire as well as moisture resistance, the respondents on the other hand were of the view that the structural strength for houses constructed with rammed earth is poor compared to ones constructed with concrete blocks. More so, that only 41.7% had knowledge on construction techniques associated with rammed earth. Furthermore, on the properties of rammed earth, the laboratory tests revealed that the cubes stabilised with 3%, 6% and 10% cement displayed increased compression strength of more than 2MPa compared to unstabilised cubes. The research therefore recommends the need for a legal framework which supports the use of stabilised rammed earth in housing construction in Zambia. This technology, if adopted, could bridge the gap in housing deficit and lead to affordable housing provision.
Thesis of Master of Engineering in Construction Management.