It´s time for a breakthrough in housing technology to become accessible to the most vulnerable communities in the world
Due to climate change, floods are happening more frequently and with more devastating effects on communities worldwide. The current strategy to help vulnerable communities is to relocate them.
However, relocating these families breaks their connection to their income source (mostly agriculture and fishing), to their identity, and to each other. Moreover, this strategy is expensive and has largely failed, as families often return to their land seeking for a better quality of life.
How can we help vulnerable communities living in flood prone areas without breaking their ties to income, identity, and support networks?
By providing them with houses that can float when the water rises and return to the ground when it recedes. CO2 Bambu, a Nicaraguan social enterprise specialized in building ecological bamboo houses, has designed a low-cost amphibious house that can increase the life quality of millions of vulnerable people worldwide.
What is an amphibious house?
An amphibious house is one that sits on the ground the majority of the time, but which has the ability to rise up with rising waters during flooding events, and return to the ground when the waters recede. This is done by securing the house to a buoyant platform, and connecting the house to vertical guideposts so that the house doesn’t float away. This technology already exists in the Netherlands and has been successfully deployed for over two decades.
These houses, however, can cost up to €300,000, making them an unrealistic option for hundreds of millions of the world´s most vulnerable people living in coastal areas.
Our challenge is to deliver amphibious houses at a price lower than $15,000.
How does bamboo fit in to all of this?
There is a relationship between the weight of the house and the cost of the below water buoyant system. The lighter the house, the simpler the buoyant portion of the house. Since bamboo is inherently light, it is the most promising building material to arrive at a low cost, flood resilient, bamboo amphibious house solution.
How to contribute
CO2 Bambu has engaged in dialogue with the community of Malacatoya, along with the world´s leaders in amphibious construction technology, and designed a solution. Now we need to field our first prototype. WE NEED TO DO THIS QUICKLY, BEFORE OCTOBER, WHEN THE WATERS OF THE MALACATOYA RIVER WILL RISE AGAIN.
We have received a donation for some of the materials by a US shelter manufacturer and CO2 Bambu can contribute the bamboo material required to build the above water home, but WE NEED YOUR HELP TO FUND:
- The purchase of barrels
- Construction and testing of the steel frame that will allow the amphibious house to sit on top of barrels in the dry season
- Conduct testing with the national university of engineering to establish a testing protocol that will allow for the approval of this innovative construction
- Deployment of the proof of concept amphibious house
We have come face to face with a broken paradigm in the global toolkit for post disaster response. The current paradigm is to relocate populations to higher ground and yet there is ample empirical evidence that this solution does not work. Populations return to their homelands. We need to collectively come up with a flood-resilient solution that will allow vulnerable populations to adapt to Climate Change, but to do so in their homelands. This is the promise of amphibious housing.
In the words of Martha Fernandez “Si nos quieren ayudar, que nos ayuden aqui.” (¨If you want to help us, then help us here”)
Join us in deploying the first amphibious house in Malacatoya. It will be a technological breakthrough, one that will allow populations to adapt to their harsh and changing environment, and will do so without destroying the very fabric of the community.
For more information about our previous experience with bamboo construction and our engagement towards climate adaptation, please visit:
CO2 Bambu's inclusive bamboo value chain: http://www.inclusivebamboovaluechain.com/
CO2 Bambu-amphibious house-flotation system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7oJruA_PNQ&feature=player_embedded
Dr. Elizabeth English, foremost authority in affordable amphibious houses in South Louisiana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgT9Gxjztl0&feature=youtu.be