Gauge provided input into this study which describes the state of play of the circular built environments in Africa in 2020.
The study sets out the characteristics of the sector and explores how these could be enhanced through circular economy approaches. It shows that significant challenges face the African built environment and construction sector.
Rapid growth and limited capacity in Africa have meant that infrastructure and service backlogs are increasing and significant proportions of urban populations have to turn to the informal sector for their livelihoods and accommodation. Out-of-date and fragmented policy and regulatory frameworks, as well as limited implementation and enforcement capacity, have resulted in unregulated and sometimes dangerous and unhealthy living and working environments.
At the same time, there is a diverse and resilient tradition of indigenous construction in Africa that creates comfortable, affordable buildings from local materials using local labour without generating waste. The informal sector has found untapped economic trade and waste opportunities which have resulted in increased access to affordable food, significant reductions in waste, and provided many with incomes.
A review of the strengths and challenges facing existing and emerging practices can be used to identify significant opportunities to integrate circular economy approaches within the built environment and construction sectors in Africa.
These opportunities include:
- Enhancing standards of construction and maintenance.
- Avoiding early obsolescence and ensuring the right to repair.
- Increasing upcycling and recycling of building materials and components.
- Creating simpler, locally sourced buildings; enhancing informal economy processes.
- Developing waste micro-grids; and supporting local organic waste recycling and soil fertility.
The study can be downloaded here.