The cost of bamboo for construction in Ghana is nominal, and it is used mainly as props, temporary housing and buildings in villages. The cost would be about 20% of the cost of wood of similar dimension. But how do you design to overcome the stereotype about building township homes through use of bamboo and mud?
Bamboo Availability in Ghana About five species of bamboo are available naturally in Ghana and are found growing in natural forests or homesteads, mainly in the lower half of the country. Of these, only two are of significant construction/ structural use. They are the Bambusa Vulgaris and Bambusa Arundinacea. The former is more plentiful and grows to a matured size of about 100mm in diameter. The latter (also known as thorny bamboo) can grow much bigger to about 200mm diameter. No definite information exists on the total availability nationwide, since they are essentially wild-growing. It is believed, however, that should a sustained use be made of the bamboo for building construction beyond the limited used as props and temporary housing as exists presently, they will not be sustainable without a concerted programme of plantation cultivation.
Problems with Ghanaian Bamboos i) Structure The available bamboo tends not to be very straight, have variable diameters, culm thickness and show marked tapering. These attributes have a costly effect on preliminary attempts at construction in bamboo, as will be indicated later. ii) Insect and Fungi Attack More than anything else, the problem with bamboo is pest and fungi attack. Insect attack is through the relatively softer tissues in the inside wall of the cavity wall and at the budding points in the nodes. Fungi attack is severe when the bamboo is exposed to damp conditions. Various methods exist for prevention of these attacks (Jayanetti and Follet, 1998). They range from the sophisticated modified Boucherie process, through immersion in a boric acid/borax mixture in water, injection and painting with creosote, to hanging in a flowing stream immediately after harvesting for at least a week for the sugary ingredients to be washed out.
Traditional preservation methods also exist such as curing, smoking and lime-washing. The real effects of such traditional methods are not known since they have not been documented and quantified....
Excerpts from: USE OF BAMBOO FOR BUILDINGS – A SUSTAINABLE, STRONG, VERSATILE AND ECONOMIC OPTION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF TIMBER IN GHANA by K. A. Solomon-Ayeh, Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI), Kumasi
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