Flooring materials in ‘intelligent settlements’

>> Friday, March 18, 2016

Ike Señeres

I do not know how it feels to live in a house that has mud, sand or dung for its flooring, because I grew up in a house with a wooden floor. I do have a friend who used to live in a shack with a mud floor, but he is beyond that now because he is now a successful businessman who lives in a big house with a marble floor.

I still remember how it feels to sleep on sand as I did during my scouting and camping days, but I really could not imagine why dung should even be used as flooring for a shack. I have seen how dung is used as cooking fuel during my mountaineering and hiking days, but again, never as a floor. Maybe that is done in other countries, but perhaps not here in the Philippines.

Well, I did not exactly grow up in a house with a wooden floor, because it actually had Lawanit as a floor, a type of medium density fibreboard (MDF) that used to be manufactured by Nasipit Lumber Company (NALCO) in Agusan del Norte, but that company has already closed. Lawanit is still being offered for sale in some online sites, but I do not know where it is coming from, and I am sure that that is no longer the real thing. It just so happened that my father was creative enough to have used it, perhaps instead of wooden planks. He was a trained carpenter and he knew what to do. Besides, he had an assistant who could do wonders with wood under his guidance.

The conventional method of measuring household poverty involves the use of an imaginary “basket of goods”, wherein the capability of a household to afford the value of the imaginary basket is the criterion whether or not a household is below or above the poverty threshold or the poverty line.
Although it is not exactly a replacement of the conventional method, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of the United Nations serves as an alternative method of measuring poverty, but this time based on the question whether or not a household has access to certain indicators. I have proposed FACETS as an acronym for all the six indicators, meaning Floor, Assets, Cooking Fuel, Electricity,Toilets and Safe Water. The six indicators measure the living standards of people all over the world.

Being able to afford the value of an imaginary basket of goods could be considered as a matter of affordability because it is implied that that if a household could not afford the said basket, then it is presumably poor and therefore it falls below the poverty line.

On the other hand, being able to avail of the six indicators is a matter of accessibility, because it is implied that if a household has access to the six indicators, then it is presumably not poor, and therefore it falls above the poverty line. One way or the other, MPI would supposedly have a direct correlation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), because the lower the prices of consumer products would be, the higher would be the probability that households could afford to purchase their basic needs.

I think that it is also implied that if a household could afford to buy a house from a developer, that house would have a floor that is other than mud, sand or dung. Since that is already very clear, then we could presume that using floor as an indicator in MPI would generally apply only to makeshift houses seemingly in the category of shacks or huts.

By comparison, I would say that having mud, sand or dung as a floor could possibly happen more in urban areas where informal settlers are usually found. I say that because natural materials such as wooden planks and bamboo slats are abundant in the rural areas either for free or at very low prices.
As an alumnus of the Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS), I still recall how people made fun of the so-called “Kubeta Village” somewhere in Cavite. People laughed at that when they saw that what was being sold by the government was not really a house, but a foundation of a house with cement floors, ready-made toilets, kitchen sinks and complete plumbing.

The builder of that village, my former boss the late Joly Benitez who was the Deputy Minister of MHS at that time actually had the last laugh, because the low income buyers of the foundations were able to complete their houses later on, but in the meantime, they had no problems with their floors, toilets, kitchens and plumbing.

Technically, any shack or hut with tile flooring made of any material would pass the MPI indicator. That said, it would appear that tiles or pavers made from recycled plastic materials would qualify. For that matter, cement or asphalt would also qualify. The choice between the two would however depend on the local costs of these materials.

It goes without saying that the common denominator between these two is sand, because the use of sand would also qualify for as long as that is mixed with either cement or asphalt. Take note however that granulated plastic that is made from unsorted plastic waste could also be used as a substitute for sand. In connection with that, it is now possible to use “phasphalt” not only for flooring, but also for road building, being a mix of plastic grains and asphalt.

It does not take rocket science to improve the lives of people who live below the poverty line, by helping them pass the MPI indicators. What it simply takes is love or empathy for the poor, and everything else will follow.

That is actually just the first step, because FACETS does not include other basic human needs such as livelihood, nutrition, education and healthcare. Among these four, I would consider livelihood to be most important, because if the poor people have a means of income, they could afford to buy the items in the FACETS indicators. Hopefully, they would also have the means to pay for nutrition, education and healthcare.

Email bantaygobyerno-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or text+639956441780


  © Blogger templates Palm by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics