Housing the urban and the rural poor is a global problem. It is, however, more critical in the economically less developed countries of the world. In the African region, the situation is aggravated by the rapid growth of population; high rate of urbanization; shortages of professional and paraprofessional manpower; lack of finacial resources; inappropriate standards and technologies for housing; slow rate of housing and infrastructure construction, inflated cost of land and building materials; and inadequate research and development, institutional and managerial facilities, amon~st others..Shelter is a basic human need. The process of housing affects all individuals. However, there is too little or inadequate objective and systamatic study of the various aspects of housing, especially in the developing countries. Today there is no science of housing, there are only opinions, convictions, and prejudices about itl . Since housing is a complex process, only some of the problems can be studied under traditional scientific classification. Many of the problems are interdisciplinary, overlapping different fields of knowledge. They require both technical and socio-economic research2 .02. The various problems of housing cut across a wide range of fields of knowledge. These include, amongst others:- 1. Natural and Physical Sciences; 2. Technical knowledge; 3. Economics; 4. Laws and Regulations; 5. Humanities and Behavorial Sciences; 6. Design and Planning; 7. Manufacturing and Construction Processes • .03. It is beyond the scope of this paper to study in detail the various areas of housing research related to the above mentioned fields. However, various overall aspects of housing research will be outlined and the importance of research in the development process will be highlighted. Special reference will be made to the organization, objectives and activities of the Housing Research and Development Unit (HRDU) in the University of Nairobi, Kenya, as an example of the housing research in a developing country.
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