Bamboo huts on stilts win climate award

The houses should resist flooding as water flows underneath them Copyright: INBAR Ecuador

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Building flood-resistant, elevated bamboo houses in Ecuador, and exchanging climate information via ‘interactive’ radio in Nigeria, are among the ideas that have won funding in a competition for developing countries.

Twenty-six projects were selected for ‘100 Ideas To Save The Planet’, this year’s Global Development Marketplace competition, which sought ideas for protecting developing countries from climate change.

The US$5 million competition was co-sponsored by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), among other institutions. Winning ideas receive up to US$200,000 in seed money, and technical support and guidance on putting the ideas into practice.

The winning projects span the developing world, with Latin America hosting 13 projects, South-East Asia and the Pacific five, North and Sub-Saharan Africa four, and South Asia two. The remaining two projects will be implemented in Europe.

Indigenous communities will run nine of the projects. For example, Nicaragua’s Miskito people will cultivate Maya nut trees to slow deforestation and provide better nutrition for 2,500 children, while 200 Ethiopian women farmers will have access to locally-adapted varieties of staple crops to reduce risks to food security.

Other projects include mobile phone text message technology to strengthen the communication of the disaster management system in a Philippines province; solar-powered desalination plants in Djibouti; and climate change radio broadcasts in Nigeria’s Igbo language, where 15 million listeners will be able to provide feedback by recording voice messages to send back to the radio producers.

"This year’s contest was an opportunity to showcase the kind of creative thinking that can deliver tangible results in our work on climate adaptation. We will be watching how this year’s winners put their ideas into action," said Katherine Sierra, vice-president of sustainable development at the World Bank.

In Ecuador, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) will build 500 elevated houses that should be resistant to flooding as water flows underneath them.

"With the funds we will provide an innovative technology to improve the design, durability and resistance of houses traditionally built with bamboo in the area of Guayaquil," Álvaro Cabrera, regional coordinator of INBAR for Latin America and the Caribbean, told SciDev.Net.

For example, roofs will be built from resin and bamboo instead of zinc, and concrete stilts will be used to extend the life of the houses from the current 3–5 years to around 30 years.