The explosive growth in urban populations across the world puts pressure on local resources. Through an inclusive approach to business, we are evolving ways of enabling low-income communities to grow sustainably through the application of steel technology.
For a number of years, we have donated our steel to re-roof houses in low-income neighbourhoods. For example, in In Bophelong and Boipatong in South Africa, we have provided over 3 000 houses with corrugated steel roofs to date.
Our research and development teams have also been using their knowledge of steel to develop affordable and sustainable housing solutions. This creates value for our stakeholders and at the same time extends the company’s experience of affordable steel housing solutions.
One such solution is Protea, developed by ArcelorMittal’s research and development team and designed to meet modern safety, insulation, health and comfort requirements in either tropical or temperate climates. We hope the design, which allows for more privacy than many traditional housing designs in developing countries, will have a positive social impact, for example, on school children’s ability to study more effectively.
Protea is designed to be quick to construct – just two days to assemble and a week to complete.
In 2013 and 2014, we installed 20 Protea housing units near our Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle sites in South Africa. ArcelorMittal volunteers worked with local companies in both locations to construct the houses.
The initiative has allowed us to share our expertise in steel construction with local businesses. ArcelorMittal plans to use the monitoring tool developed by the local team to assess the impact that the project has had on the families that now live in the houses.
In order to scale up the use of such solutions, and so their social impact, we are exploring ways of creating inclusive approaches to business that will look at alternative routes to market for such products as Protea. Following feasibility work undertaken in 2012, we have been participating in a CSR Europe working group to encourage sustainable and inclusive economic growth at the ‘base of the pyramid’ – among people living on the very lowest incomes.
Another example of our work in this area is from our operation in Trinidad & Tobago. In 2014, the site in Trinidad & Tobago signed a memorandum of agreement with Habitat for Humanity initiating a new project to donate steel to build low-cost houses. Habitat for Humanity have been our partner in many such ventures round the world, where we have shared with them our expertise in steel technology to make homes more affordable, and communities more sustainable.
The future residents of the houses in the Trinidad & Tobago project are from low-income families, who would otherwise have no way of affording a home of their own. The families will be involved in constructing their houses, and will be trained in construction skills as they do so. These activities are being supported by volunteers from both the community and our own employees. The idea of the project is not only to provide housing, but to provide additional skills within the local economy.