Cathie Anderson

Insights into the people who shape Sacramento’s business landscape

Cathie Anderson: West Sacramento firm advises Liberian government on affordable housing

08/01/2014 3:05 PM

08/01/2014 3:07 PM

Because of Miyamoto International’s success in Haiti, the government of Liberia has invited the company’s chief executive, Kit Miyamoto, to advise the government on construction of safe, affordable housing.

As this column reported in April, the West Sacramento-based engineering company received an award for training 6,000 to 7,000 Haitians on how to repair and stabilize 130,000 homes damaged in a 2010 earthquake. Liberia, however, will be a different sort of challenge, as Miyamoto details in a three-part post on his blog at kitmiyamoto.com.

“We discussed a range of issues, from the heavy reliance on importing construction material that pushed up construction costs to the serious gap in technical skills due to the long years of debilitating civil war,” Miyamoto wrote.

The coastal West African country is recovering from both violent civil wars and past government corruption. In what many election monitors describe as the freest election in Liberia’s history, its people elected Harvard University-trained economist Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president in 2005 – and again in 2011.

While public-sector funds can pay to improve infrastructure, Miyamoto told me in an email from the company’s Milan offices, housing development really should be led by the private sector. He learned that the vast majority of Liberia’s 4.1 million residents live in hot, overcrowded slumhouses that rent at exorbitant prices.

“This is done by developing capacity in local contractors and engineers, by working together and bringing in creative construction methods which meet international standards,” Miyamoto wrote.

 

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