Biological methods to increase housing resilience to flooding

Ana Armada Bras, Irene Appeaning Addo, Christopher T. S. Beckett, Ibrahim Yakubu, Frederick Owusu-Nimo, Alexandre Gagnon, Mohit Arora, Yuner Huang

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Providing adequate housing in developing countries remains a major global priority but the material requirements to deliver large scale housing and infrastructural systems pose a significant environmental burden. Circular economy approaches and low carbon natural materials such as soil can help reduce this burden but require investigations into their social acceptance, environmental impacts and engineering effectiveness in delivering required performance for housing resilience. Houses made of earth-based materials prevail in northern Ghana given the availability of the raw material and low cost. However, in 2019, this region was affected by severe floods, destroying more than 6000 houses. This has resulted in a trend towards favouring the construction of modern cement-based building in recent years, thereby moving away from the construction of more sustainable traditional buildings. Circular economy driven low carbon solutions can play a significant role in dealing with such challenges at a relatively low cost. Plant-based mixtures are sometimes used to increase the resilience of the walls of earth-based houses to water but require better alternatives both in terms of local availability and their engineering performance. This research investigates key urban and rural construction typologies, the earth-based construction method and material requirements to understand current practices and resilience opportunities in Tamale and Wa region of Ghana. To promote the resource circularity, locally available agro-industry resources and agricultural biomaterials are being assessed for their availability under flooding season, along with their economic and environmental impacts considering production mechanism, transportation mode and distances. For a circular bio-economy, materials such as rice husk, crop residues and other bio-stabilisers (e.g. dawadawa, Locust bean gum, Tanin, etc.) are being investigated for their availability and performance in flood resilience. Accordingly, results provide better understanding of the availability of local construction practices and resource flows crucial for integrating flood resilience in earth-based construction methods delivering lower environmental impacts and higher circularity potential.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 2021
EventWorld Resources Forum 2021 - , Switzerland
Duration: 12 Oct 202114 Oct 2021


ConferenceWorld Resources Forum 2021
Abbreviated titleWRF 2021
Internet address


  • Circular Africa
  • Earth-based Construction
  • circular economy


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