Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)

AVN's mission is to improve housing conditions through an appropriate architecture, as soon as possible, for as many people as possible. In sub-Saharan Africa, the struggle to obtain decent housing plunges millions of families into a vicious circle of poverty. AVN offers a solution to this problem, based on three integrated concepts: A Roof + A Skill + A Market AVN organises the training and support of local Nubian Vault (NV) builders and entrepreneurs to promote this solution on a large-scale, with a view to developing a self-sustaining market in NV construction. As a result, families can acquire affordable, sustainable, and decent housing, at the same time improving their economic cond...
Mar 2, 2011

AVN's Program in Senegal

The main entrance to the Centre
The main entrance to the Centre

Until recently, the main thrust of AVN's work has been in Burkina Faso, and over the border in neighbouring regions of southern Mali. But three years ago, we started getting requests from several organisations for sending trained VN master masons from Burkina Faso to work on projects in Senegal.

Of these requests, the most important has been in the region of Matam in north-eastern Senegal: the construction of a technical training centre and annexes (La maison des énergies) in Thiangol, close to the Senegal river, launched in January 2009, with financial sponsorship from the Communauté de Communes Val de Drôme (CCVD), France. AVN has provided a core  team of masons from Burkina Faso, led by VN master mason Camille Sanon, to build the centre and train local apprentices. The main purpose of this centre is to provide training and support for villagers in conservation of the environment of the river basin, renewable energy sources, and local making of tools and other products. The centre includes workshops, meeting rooms, offices, and accommodation units, and the major construction work is now more or less completed (see photos below). Although this project falls outside the main focus of AVN's work, namely to support the construction of houses for villagers, it is serving two very important functions:

- introducing the VN technique to a new region of the Sahel, and demonstrating that the technique is viable and sustainable

- providing a training site for apprentices from local villages and from elsewhere in Senegal, who themselves will spread the technique, recruit apprentices of their own, and kick-start a market for rural housing.

As an example of this last point, in March 2010, in Dakar, Haidar el Ali, President of l’Océanium , and AVN signed a partnership agreement to open a pilot village program in the zone of Kolda, in upper Casamance. Hamidou Diallo, Océanium coordinator in this region, will be project manager for this programme over the next four years. At the moment, a number of apprentice masons from Kolda are undergoing on-site training at the CCVD/AVN project at Thiangol (see photo below). A further 12 apprentices from the the region of Thies, 50 km from Dakar, have also been working on the Thiangol project, and will be returning home soon to start a program in villages close to Thies.

Any support you can provide to help support the new apprentices in Senegal in becoming independent entrepreneurs providing sustainable and safe housing in their villages will be very welcome....

The main building
The main building
The conference hall
The conference hall
Meeting room interior
Meeting room interior
Accommodation units
Accommodation units
External rendering
External rendering
Roof view
Roof view
Apprentices from Kolda training in Thiangol
Apprentices from Kolda training in Thiangol

Links:

Nov 25, 2010

AVN-Mali program set for growth

VN mosque, Mamarila
VN mosque, Mamarila

The success of the first PVDP (Pilot Village Deployment Program) strategy in Dantiola (Dendjola) and surrounding villages has been recognised by the World Bank, who - as a result of our success in the 2009 Development Marketplace competition - have provided some matching funding for setting up similar programs in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in Mali. And some funding has been granted to us by the Dutch Triodos Foundation to back part of the costs of the third and fourth years of the Dantiola PVDP. Included with this report are more photos of some of the village houses and mosques built in the villages around Dantiola.

AVN's work in Mali only started a few years ago, but already 30 masons have ben trained in vault construction, and there are 49 apprentices in the current training program. In total, some 180 vaults have been built since AVN started working in Mali, not only for village houses, but also some schools, dispensaries, and community centres.

Plans are in hand for recruiting a local team to supervise recruitment and training of apprentices, with headquarters probably to be based in Segou, on the bank of the Niger river, a town with a location centrally placed with respect to current and planned AVN programs in the country. AVN-Mali is in the process of being officially registered as an NGO by the Government of Mali.

The needs for decent housing in Mali are colossal - encroachment of the Sahara desert and deforestation means that the bush timber used for building tradional flat roofs is increasingly scarce and unavailable. Poorer rural families cannot afford to purchase 'modern' roofing materials such as corrugated iron sheets and sawn timber beams - which, in any case, provide little or no protection from the extremes of heat and cold, and only last a few years before they need replacing. Although we have received some funding, as mentioned above, to support development of our work in Mali, it is a drop in the ocean (or a grain of sand in the desert), and we need to raise matching funding. So, any help you can provide will be much appreciated.

Village house, Nougoure
Village house, Nougoure
VN mosque, Coucoun
VN mosque, Coucoun
Village house
Village house
Nov 25, 2010

7.5 kilometers (= 4.7 miles) of vaults built!

NV House 1
NV House 1

This autumn, we have had the resources, for the first time, to undertake a full and accurate analysis of the results of our program since its start in 2000. Here are some of the key points:

- if all the vaults built since 2000 in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal by masons trained by AVN were placed end-to-end, their total length would be 7.5 km , or 4.7 miles, equal to a total area of around 20,000 square meters (a standard NV vault has an internal width of 3.25 meters),

- in total, 176 masons have been trained, with a further 230 currently on apprenticeships,

- the program has directly benefited some 7,800 people (clients and their families, masons, apprentices, laborers...)

- 400,200 $ worth of local salaries have been generated by the program,

- 2,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent have been saved, as compared to the usual alternative construction methods,

- a new program has been successfully opened in Zambia, southern Africa.

Growth of the program has been very significant during the 2009/10 building season, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali, with 11 new Pilot Village Deployment Programs (PVDP) opened, each one centred around a cluster of villages, with a local 'champion' (a community leader, for example) spear-heading the promotion of NV houses, and bringing in a team of NV masons to train local apprentices and build the first houses. Amongst the photographs with this report are examples of typical two-vault village houses built as part of these DPVP's.To cope with the increased level of activity, the team at AVN's HQ in Boromo, Burkina Faso has been expanded to 8 people now (see photo).

The three-vault church in Petit-Balé, near Boromo, has now had a magnificent bell-tower added to it (see photo)

The AVN show house at this years Salon International de l'Artisanat (SIAO), held in the Burkina Faso capital of Ougadougou in the first week of November attracted some 4,000 visitors (see photo) and two teams of NV masons on our stand signed up future clients for NV houses.

And... we recently received images of the first NV house to cross the Atlantic! In the Spring of 2009, Stevan de la Rosa, a young Mexican, spent several months learning the NV technique in Boromo in 2009. I include a photo of the first NV building he has constructed with a team from a rural educational project in San Isidro, in the centre of Mexico. The building has two rooms, one for storing seed, the other for tools. More NV buildings are planned ...

So, that's a quick summary of the latest news. Many thanks again to all of you who are supporting our work - but there's still a long way to go before we can make a really significant impact on improving housing conditions for all the poor rural families in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tony Kaye

NV House 2
NV House 2
NV House 3
NV House 3
NV House 4
NV House 4
NV House 5
NV House 5
Petit Balé church with bell tower
Petit Balé church with bell tower
A NV shop
A NV shop
AVN Show House at the SIAO
AVN Show House at the SIAO
The AVN team in Boromo
The AVN team in Boromo
AVN
AVN's office in Boromo
The first NV building in Mexico
The first NV building in Mexico

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