On Conservation and Development: The Role of Traditional Mud Brick Firms in Southern Yemen
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A study of small and medium enterprises that make up the highly specialized mud brick construction industry in southern Yemen reveals how the practice has been sustained through closely-linked regional production chains and strong firm inter-relationships. Yemen, as it struggles to grow as a nation, has the potential to gain from examining the contribution that these institutions make to an ancient building practice that still continues to provide jobs and train new skilled workers. The impact of these firms can be bolstered through formal recognition and capacity development. UNESCO, ICOMOS, and other conservation agencies active in the region provide a model that emphasizes architectural conservation as well as the concurrent development of the existing socioeconomic linkages. The primary challenge is that mud brick construction is considered obsolete, but evidence shows that the underlying institutions are resilient and sustainable, and can potentially provide positive regional policy implications.