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Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Non-conventional Materials and Technologies (NOCMAT 2009) 6-9 September 2009, Bath, UK

SOME MATERIAL IMPROVEMENT OPTIONS FOR EARTH CONSTRUCTION IN NORTHERN GHANA: A KEY FACTOR IN REDUCING THE IMPACT OF RECENT FLOODS ON HOUSING
Manu, F. W. 1, Baiden-Amissah P.D. 2, Boadi, J.K. 3 , Amoa-Mensah, K. 4
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C.S.I.R (Building and Road Research Institute), K.N.U.S.T., Kumasi, Ghana 2 Optimum Shelter Group, UPO box, Kumasi, Ghana

ABSTRACT: Ghana and the entire West African sub-region have been heavily affected by the global climatic change. Temperatures are higher, dry seasons prolonged and rainy seasons pronounced and intense most often leading to floods. The recent floods in the Sahel region of West Africa including the Northern part of Ghana recorded very high destructions in 2007 and 2008. The destruction of housing was huge. More than 15,089 housing units were lost in the three Northern Regions in 2007. Majority of these were in earth. This has worsened countrys housing delivery deficit which was at 600,000 units in 2006 and increasing annually at about 100,000 units. Among the causes for the high level of destruction was the fragility of the materials and inappropriateness of methods applied to stabilise the earthen materials. The indigenous construction methods available for walls in the region are sun dried earth bricks and blocks, atakpame or in-situ hand pressed and wattle and daub methods. The paper seeks to present solutions to reduce the impact of the floods on earth buildings with reference to material improvement based on available but lesser-used natural and locally processed materials. These materials and their technology are available and readily adoptable in parts of the Northern Region. Fused laterite, clay pozzolana, lime and plant material such as yellampour are some of the suggested materials. Some of these materials were unearthed and mapped through research activities conducted at the CSIR (Building and Road Research Institute) in its efforts to increase the appropriateness of earth as a building material. Research data is presented to substantiate the efficiency of the materials. Remarkable advantages including savings in cost of construction of the materials are enumerated and examples of some projects given. This is meant to make researchers, academia, construction industry and all interested in the West African sub-region aware of options to build durable and sustainable houses through locally available material improvement technology. This will promote the development agenda of West African states and achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. KEYWORDS: indigenous, laterite, stabilization.

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Researcher, fwirekomanu@yahoo.co.uk Researcher, kofiamissah2003@yahoo.com 3 Researcher, boadijonas@yahoo. 4 Researcher and consultant, kamensas@hotmail.com 1

1. Introduction Ghana is a 52 year old independent country in the West Coast of Africa. The Northern part of Ghana has pronounced dry and wet seasons, with the wet or rainy season occurring between the months of May and August. Dickson and Benneh (1988). This climatic area is beginning to experience the effects of the global climatic change. This has manifested in severe flooding annually in the north from year 2007. For instance in August 2007, there were heavy and persistent rains which flooded a lot of areas in the north. Ghana had in the previous year experienced scanty and erratic rainfall leading to the low level in water bodies and the near shut down of the Akosombo Hydro-electric plant. The most severe flooding occurred in the three northern regions of Ghana. Sandema, Nawulli and Bongo, were three of the towns affected by the floods in the region. This region falls in the warm-dry humid climatic zone with a single rainfall regime peaking usually in the third quarter of the year. Most of the north is founded on voltaian rock formation (Gidigasu and Mate-Korley, 1980) with fused laterite and rock outcrops in the generally lateritic soil. Due to its relatively low level, there are basically drainage problems resulting in the silting up of the water bodies some of which are fed by the White and Black Volta. The banks of these silted up water bodies are being used for both housing construction and farming activities. This results in the removal the ground vegetative cover, leading to erosion and compounding siltation of the water bodies. During the floods, 12 lives were lost and 2428 houses were destroyed in the 3 District alone (http://www.mint.gov.gh/ghanafloods/statistics_ueast.html) National resources had to be employed to mitigate the effects of the flood, School buildings were used as temporary shelter for over four months, thereby interfering with the educational calendar in the region and jeopardizing the future of children in the affected area. 1.1 Objectives The paper seeks to do the following: Study the physical and environmental conditions causing flooding in northern Ghana where the towns of Sandema, Nawull and Bongo are situated. Unearth available indigenous materials for construction and methods for protecting earth buildings . These results are meant to help researchers, policy makers, academia, building industry experts and all interested to engineer and implement specific solutions for the protection and reconstruction of earth buildings in this and other communities in Ghana and the West African Sub-region. 1.2 Research Methods This paper is captures discussions, observation and documentation made during site visits by the authors to the three towns affected by the 2007 floods three weeks after the event. This was to ascertain first hand information on the devastation and its effect on earth buildings. The studies conducted were analysed and proposals made for the protection of existing buildings through indigenous building materials from research outputs from CSIRBuilding and Road Research Institute (CSIR-BRRI and other Research Institutes) over the years.

2. Discussions 2.1 Physical and Environmental Conditions 2.1.1 Climate The Northern part of Ghana has warm-dry humid climatic conditions characterised by high temperatures. Temperatures as high as 40 oC could be recorded. There is a single rainfall regime from May to September. Humidity is below and above average for dry and wet seasons respectively. 2.1.2 Geology 70% of Ghana land surface is covered by laterite. (Gidigasu and Mate Appeagyei, 1989) The results of studies on laterite materials revealed that, the dominant lateritic materials in Ghana range from rocks, boulders, cobbles, and pebbles through gravels to fine-grained sandy, silty, and clayey soils. Gidigasu (2005) The area falls mostly in the zone of the Voltain sandstone basin. This is a relatively young rock formation. Importantly there are natural fused laterites or hard pan, rock outcrops identified in many areas. The basin also has lots of clay which has the effect of reducing percolation of water into the ground. There are four areas identified with major limestone deposits with reserves ranging from 6 to 500 million tonnes. Gidigasu (2005) 2.1.3 Water bodies There are seasonal water bodies flowing through the area. Wind water and activities of man have caused the land to lose its vegetative cover resulting in the loosening of soil aggregates which have silted up the riverbeds making it possible for water to flow at a high level. 2.1.4 Vegetation The vegetation is varied but it is mostly grassland interspersed with trees. This has forced people to farm close to the banks of rivers leading to aggregates being eroded into the riverbeds 2.1.5 Topography Most of the region is low lying and this has created difficulty in draining of water from the surface of the ground. The results of these conditions are high transmission of heat into interiors, stagnation of water around buildings leading to flooding and resultant destruction of life and properties. 2.2 Material and Methods Available for Wall Improvement 2.2.1 Sun dried bricks/blocks The use of earth as a building material has moved from the atakpame and wattle and daub methods to sun dried or adobe bricks/blocks. The popular reason is that it is easier, faster and gives better quality assurance. It has been used for the construction of about 60% of all buildings in rural areas in Ghana. Manu (2006). Traditionally, mostly laterite in the nearby environment is used after some tests are conducted based on the community-

specific knowledge and skills in earth construction. Improvement on its compressive, tensile and abrasive strengths is being re-confirmed. This has been achieved by addition sand and rice husk to various grain size laterite. Mix proportions differ based on the properties of the laterite available. 28 day wet compressive strength of 1.5 MPa has been achieved. Due to its vulnerability to the rain, its use on the exterior without rendering with an impervious material should be discouraged.

Plate 1. An adobe construction site for Mr and Mrs Gubbels in Bongbini in the Mamprusi East District of the Northern Region 2.2.2 Compressed earth blocks (CEB) The CEB technology offers an alternate kind of building walls of guaranteed quality. The move to use compressed earth buildings in Ghana began at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in the 1970s. The TEK block technology system developed by the Department of Housing and Planning of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi was the foremost. TEK block press was used in putting up few public buildings and houses by the use of laterite with 5-10% cement. The introduction of pozzolana as a replacement of 40% of Portland cement has improved its chemical properties (refer to 2.2.5) and cost. 2 to 5 MPa has been achieved for 28 day compressive strength. The attempt to integrate it into the formal and informal sectors and industry was however short-lived. Other compression systems available are the CINVA RAM and many other locally manufactured presses. The numerous uncontrolled fabrications of presses have led to low quality bricks and wall construction evident in some project.

Plate 2. TEK-block (compressed earth block) used in the construction of walls and vault in Gambigigo, Upper East Region on Ghana

2.2.3 Lime (cottage industry-base) stabilised earth blocks Though lime-earth stabilisation is one of the oldest ways of improving fine-grained earth for construction, its utilisation is uncommon. The lime in Ghana is produced from limestone, dolomite deposits and clam shells on small scale basis even though good reserves exist in the Northern part of the Country at Buipe, Nauli and Bongo. Reserves range between 6500 million tonnes. The local lime-earth block production capacity depends on the quantity and quality of the lime, nature of the earth material, the availability of laboratory for evaluating the lime-earth mix, method for moulding the blocks, curing procedures and the age of the blocks. On the average a mixture of lime: laterite proposed is 1:10. However 67% of lime mixes have also been successful at CSIR-BRRI exposure site. 2.2.4 Lateritic stones Laterite stone construction is a common feature in most parts of the country. The common types of these stones are the ferruginous and aluminous rocks. The aluminous laterite stones are generally abundant in high rainfall areas while the ferruginous ones are dominant in the semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. The specific gravity of the laterite stones range from 2.6 to 3.0 g/cm3. The compressive strength also ranges from 3.1 to 17.2 MPa. It is used together with pozzolana-portland cement or lime mortar. Some fused laterites have been found to possess even greater compressive strength than engineered bricks. Two ways of using the material are in the natural regular or irregular forms. Irregular ones take a lot of mortar making it most often uneconomical. When it is used for the substructure it is recommended that it be cut to rectilinear forms to avoid rendering. This walling material has been used in other regions such as Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and the Eastern. Churches such as the Catholic Cathedral of Nandom and former Bishops residence of Navrongo are built from it. Making use of improvement in stone processing technologies, the great potential of these stones can be successfully used for structural and non structural portions of houses. Lateritic stone quarries have been opened up Bolgatanga-Bawku, Techiman, Kokoben and Trabuom. There are some good outcrops of lateritic stones which have been mapped by the CSIR (BRRI). Gidigasu and Appeagyei (1989)

Plate 3. A laterite blocks construction of a residence and church in Nandom in the Upper West Region, Ghana.

Plate 4. A laterite block quarry in Nandom 2.2.5. Pozzolana-Portland cement stabilisation Pozzolana production from identified clay deposits in Ghana and used to replace as much as 40% of the Portland cement content in building and road construction. The development, production and use of less costly pozzolana are of a great impetus to cost reduction in the construction industry in Ghana. Pozzolana is a material containing silica and alumina as well as other constituents which react with the constituents in Portland cement. The advantages of its use include providing a more plastic and workable paste when used with Portland cement, binding better than Portland cement mortar, greater resistant to water and gaining more in strength even after a year. This is a form of stabilisation in which cement mortar is used to bind aggregates, burnt bricks, stones, fused laterite etc to give the walls the needed strengths. Test blocks should be made on site to determine the suitability and proportions of the mixture. In its application in sandcrete block moulding, 28-day compressive strength of 3 MPa was achieved with 14.3% by volume Portland pozzolana cement as compared to the required 2.28 N/mm2. Hugo and Hubert (2001) 2.2.6 Stone in pozzolana Portland cement mortar. Stones available in this region are rocks of the igneous and sedimentary origins. These are suitable as components for structural aspects of buildings though they are seldom used. This is because of the high of Portland cement (the predominant binder in the area). However, with the reduction in the volume of Portland cement used as a result of its replacement by pozzolana, its used is highly recommended. The caution is that porous stones should not be used. Important positions for these stones in the structural elements such as foundations, columns and beams, and walls. 2.2.7 Coal tar/bitumen stabilisation In this form of stabilization, heated bitumen is added to a mixture of earth and sand. Bitumen is effective for earth which has low clay content. Hugo and Hubert (2001) Emulsified tar, though more expensive could be used. The best mix ratio should be determined on test samples. A 28 day compressive strength of between 2 to 5MPa has been achieved with this method with 5 to 9% bitumen emulsion. Hugo and Hubert (2001)

2.3 Material and Methods Available for Wall Finishes Improvement 2.3.1 Earth renders Three forms of stabilising the earth rendering material occur. An indigenous mixture of dawa dawa fruit extract, cow dung, ash and yellampour- a local climbing plant meant to last up to 8 years. Coal tar or bitumen as described in 2.2.3 and stabilization with a weak pozzolana Portland cement mix gives a very good bonding and strength when used with earth. Pozzolana use performs well with earth as a result of the fact that its component is also clay. 2.3.2 Lime-earth renders Lime stabilisation has its greatest effect on clayey soils when it is in large quantities, often over 10%. A lime-stabilised rendering is best applied to a stabilised surface. The mix should be determined on test samples. 2.3.3 Bitumen-stabilised renders Bitumen-stabilised soils should neither be too clayey nor too sandy and dusty. The quantity of bitumen ranges from 2 to 6%. They are usually cut-backs which should be heated without exceeding 100 oC. Where bituminous emulsions are used the mixture must be made slowly in order to avoid any breakdown of the emulsion. 2.3.4 Painting Pozzolana-Portland cement slurry, emulsified and oil based paints are used on external walls as supplement to the sealing of pores and bonding of particles. Local extracts from plants and shale are also available particularly in the South, can be imported and applied in the northern regions. 3. Conclusions With the implementation of these proposals, earth buildings can be protected from flooding and be able to satisfy its structural requirements. This will be a great motivational factor for promotion of improved earth construction and increased housing delivery in Ghana. 4. References DICKSON, K.B. and BENNEH, G. 1988. A New Geography of Ghana. London: Longman. Field, M.J. 1943. GIDIGASU, M.D and MATE-KORLEY, E.N. 1980, Stabilisation Characteristics of Selected Ghanaian Soils (Technical Paper HM/6 Paper 12): Building and Road research Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, U.P.O. Box 40, Kumasi Ghana Ghana Floods Inter-Ministerial task force website for the management of the recent floods in Ghana http://www.mint.gov.gh/ghanafloods/statistics_ueast.html

GIDIGASU, M.D. and APPEAGYEI, E. 1989, Characterisation of a Typical Lateritic Loamy Clay for the Production of Adobe and Local Lime Stabilised Walling Blocks : Some Local Raw Materials for Low Cost Housing in Ghana (part 2): Commonwealth Science Council, Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall mall, London SWIY 5HX, HUGO H., and HUBERT G. Earth Construction: A Comprehensive Guide GIDIGASU, M.D. (2005) Lateritic Soil construction for housing in Ghana MANU, FREDERICK WIREKO (2006)The Forgotten Hands-Documentation of Ghanaian Indigenous Knowledge And Skills In Earth Construction-Case Study Of Kogle, Upper West Region, Ghana