In 1981, the Government of Malawi launched its Rural Housing Programme, in association with the UNDP and UNCHS, with the long-term objective of motivating, encouraging and assisting rural families to improve their housing conditions. The programme involved training local people in building material production and construction methods and then helping them to build their own homes. House costs were reduced by 70 per cent compared to conventional government housing and an innovative funding mechanism enabled even the poorest families to provide their own homes. Income generating opportunities were established in the production of building materials and building skills. Designs were based on the principle that houses could be extended as and when required and by 1991 3,000 families had completed their homes and a further 1,318 were in the process of construction.