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...
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
Aug 27, 2010

Baaba Maal and Alpha Blondy support AVN

Baaba Maal with Antoine Horellou and Pascal Imbert
Baaba Maal with Antoine Horellou and Pascal Imbert

AVN’s Director of Development, Antoine Horellou, met World Music stars Baaba Maal (from Senegal) and Alpha Blondy (from Ivory Coast) at the 'Festival du Bout du Monde’ in Crozon, Brittany, France, on August 8th (see photos below)

This was our third contact with the famous Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, who had just returned from a successful tour of venues in the USA and the UK : Tony Kaye (AVN Management Committee) met Baaba Maal in London last December, and Thomas Granier (AVN Director of Operations) also met up with him earlier this year in Senegal. Baaba Maal would like to build a Cultural Centre using the VN technique in his home town of Podor. He has also offered to produce a song / video-clip for AVN, and to introduce AVN’s work to fellow Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, and the famous Malian musicians Salif Keita and Rokia Traoré.

Alpha Blondy (below), known as Africa’s ’King of Reggae’ , and also Ivory Coast’s UN Peace Ambassador, has offered to promote AVN to his contacts, and through his website.

This is a great tribute to the work of AVN, to be receiving the support of these artists, whose music is listened to on transistor radios in nearly every village in West Africa, and whose political stance (in many of their songs) has made them very popular with the poorest sections of urban and rural society in the region.

Many thanks to Suzette Newman, of Palm Pictures in London, and Pascal Imbert, for helping arrange our meetings with Baaba Maal.

AVN flyer with a dedication from Baaba Maal
AVN flyer with a dedication from Baaba Maal
Alpha Blondy with AVN Annual Report
Alpha Blondy with AVN Annual Report

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