The Centro Experimental de la Vivienda Económica (CEVE), member of Asociacion de la Vivienda Económica (AVE), specialises in research, technological development, transfer and training in low-cost housing. It works to promote social inclusion, access to housing for low-income groups and alternative ways of tackling a range of housing-related issues. Key features of CEVE’s work include the development of integral building systems and sustainable building components and to date 4,200 homes have been built using the technologies, management and financial systems developed. Its participatory approach and training processes help develop confidence, cooperation and skills among community residents. NGOs and governments throughout Latin America and beyond have benefited from CEVE’s work.
Aims and Objectives
CEVE’s primary objectives include the following:
- To research and develop appropriate building technologies.
- To generate scientific-technical knowledge.
- To develop appropriate and appropriable housing technologies and production. administration, participatory planning and micro-credit systems.
- To advise, train and transfer while introducing technical innovations.
- To offer services and carry out demonstrative and replicating actions.
- To influence housing/social and scientific/technological policies related to housing, community development, and work.
With almost half of its 37 million inhabitants living below the poverty line, Argentina currently faces a rapidly increasing housing deficit, increased unemployment and growing social exclusion. Public housing schemes favour the construction of expensive homes that are accessible to few. Research into building technologies remains detached from urgent practical needs. There is a need, therefore, to tackle the housing problem through a comprehensive approach that addresses housing, employment and local development.
CEVE’s work addresses technical issues of housing for the low-income population as well as social integration. Projects and components are designed to encourage social inclusion, capacity building, and income generation. Key features of CEVE’s work include the development of integral building systems and sustainable building components, consultancy in ‘soft’ methods and techniques (assessment, technology transfer, project administration, etc.), and a revolving micro-credit fund for home improvement. Overall, 4,200 homes have been built in Argentina, housing 18,000 people.
Projects developed so far have involved training and capacity building for the beneficiary population, and have often led to the creation of work co-operatives. Women have been strongly involved in all projects.
Funding for CEVE’s ongoing projects and research has been obtained from a variety of sources, including the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), government agencies, private companies and international funding. Projects are geared toward total or partial self-management by beneficiary residents and communities. Through CEVE’s micro-credit programme based on a revolving fund, credit for home construction and/or improvement has been granted to 500 families.
CEVE’s work, in association with other national NGO networks, has sought to influence government housing policy and raise awareness among political leaders on crucial housing issues that need to be addressed. In some cases, localised impact upon housing policy has been achieved.
Why is it innovative?
- Promoting the use of traditional materials, rationalising and optimising their application.
- Developing technical processes that generate employment for non-skilled workers.
- Contributing to environmental protection and developing sustainable building materials.
- Promoting new housing policies that prioritise social inclusion.
- Transferring knowledge and experience within a range of international networks.
What is the environmental impact?
Ongoing research is carried out into sustainable building materials which are tested and implemented. Current research includes the recycling of disposable materials for the production of bricks as well as the use of renewable resources such as wood and its by-products from fast-growing sources that are easy to reforest.
Is it financially sustainable?
The implementation of projects and technologies developed by CEVE has provided training in administration, construction, and related fields to beneficiary residents and communities. On many occasions, the skills acquired have been applied in the provision of related services to third parties and in the creation of work co-operatives and other income-generating activities. In addition to government subsidies, CEVE’s revolving micro-credit fund for home improvement and construction helps to make affordable housing accessible to low-income groups.
What is the social impact?
CEVE’s work promotes greater community co-operation and integration through participatory work and training processes. Women have actively participated in a range of projects and initiatives, and the self-management of projects and building processes has led to greater co-operation and integration among group members.
Increased skills and abilities among residents and communities have developed as a result of CEVE’s work, both in administration and in occupations directly related to the action or technology developed (e.g. civil construction). On several occasions, skills acquired as a result of projects have led to the creation of income-generating micro-undertakings by community members.
Health conditions have improved as a result of adequate ventilation, improved thermal conditions and sanitation. Greater self-esteem has also been achieved, contributing to residents’ general health.
The building materials and systems developed by CEVE, as well ‘soft’ methods and techniques have been applied throughout most provinces in Argentina. A multiplier effect is achieved through the transfer of technologies to a network of public institutions, grassroots organisations, non-governmental organisations and micro and small enterprises.
Housing schemes have been developed elsewhere in Latin America, with 660 homes built in Brazil and 282 in Uruguay, as well as demonstration projects in Cuba, Honduras and El Salvador. Consultancy on soft technologies has been carried out throughout Argentina and in several Latin American countries. Numerous training activities including workshops, courses and seminars have been carried out in Latin America. CEVE has disseminated information internationally through books, manuals, articles, CD-ROMs, videos and the web.
NGO, private sector, local government, national government