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 11, 2013

La Voute Nubienne: results and impacts 2012/2013

A Burkinabe family and its NV house
A Burkinabe family and its NV house

The 14th Nubian Vault construction season has begun, and it will be a crucial one for the Association La Voute Nubienne. As our director Thomas Granier pointed out, the AVN bus is now ready and functioning in all its main component parts: the steering wheel (the local teams, increasingly composed by local employees in their managerial roles), the engine (the tested and proven efficient method for kick-starting the Nubian Vault market), the gasoline (the commitment and diligence of the dozens of employees and volunteers, in France and Africa), the passengers (the masons and clients, whose number and satisfaction is growing steadily). Now is the time for AVN to shift to turbo speed. Before explaining this accelerated approach and how it could dramatically increase NV production, we would like to highlight the results obtained during the last season 2012/2013.  

Summary of Overall Results & The Consequent Impact

During 2012, the program faced some exogenous challenges: the Malian political instability and the gold rush in Burkina Faso among others, reduced the availability of masons and extension agents. On the other hand, some important assets emerged: a notable reinforcement of the capacities of local managers, the first training academies for masons and key-persons and the increased autonomy of regional teams. These factors supported the production and allowed to achieve the quasi-totality of the targets set at the beginning of season.

  • 315 new NVs built on 209 building sites: 123 in Burkina Faso, 72 in Mali, 12 in Senegal, 2 in other countries;
  • 2,309 new linear meters of NVs;
  • 11 new artisan masons completed their training, nearly 300 apprentices currently in training;
  • 98 new localities (villages, hamlets, suburbs...) reached;
  • 616 tons of CO2 prevented and 428 trees saved;
  • theoretical training given to 219, including masons, extension agents, key-persons and women involved in the programme through 22 dedicated modules of the “NV Academies”;
  • 16 new local employees in national and regional teams;
  • 220,462 € retained in local communities;
  • 1,886 beneficiaries among clients, users and builders;
  • 75% of NV buildings are houses for the poor rural population (subsistence farmers and merchants).

Since 2000, some 14,000 people have benefited from the 1,943 NVs built in 406 localities by 270 NV masons. This in turn has saved 3,846 tons of CO2 and 2,642 trees and has helped to keep nearly 1.5 million € in local communities. AVN has 5 employees and 1 intern in France and 2 Volontaires de Solidarité Internationale (VSI) and 33 employees in Africa (Regional and National Coordinators, Administrative and Financial Managers, Office Agents, Regional and National Production Managers, and Extension Agents).

The quality of our program has been recognized by several international institutions. In the last two years alone, we have been awarded with the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment 2013 and we have been named Entrepreneurs of the Year 2012 for Africa by the Schwab Foundation; we were the semi-finalist for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge and Thomas Granier was made a Knight of the French Order of Merit on May 15th, in recognition of his tireless work in promoting sustainable and affordable housing in Africa. These recognitions join the several other awards obtained in the preceding years.

Future Strategies and Objectives

With the passage of time, it has become increasingly clear that the best way to disseminate the NV technique as fast as possible for the largest number of beneficiaries possible is to involve local communities and organizations at each phase of our work. Not only the NV technique, but also the dissemination strategy needs to be adopted and managed by the local population. With this purpose in mind, we are in the process of establishing a number of field partnerships with local groups: (community based organizations, farmers’ cooperatives, local NGOs and municipal authorities), in order to share with them our techniques and strategies, and to do the dissemination work in unison.

Furthermore, the forthcoming opening of the programme in Ghana gives us the chance, given the better financial conditions and the higher maturity of political class with respect to the countries we operated so far, to involve local and national institutions from the beginning. For the first time, the “Earth Roofs for the Sahel” could be a publicly sponsored programme, implemented in collaboration with the public agencies of the beneficiary country.

Last but not least, from having been focused exclusively on the diffusion of a building technique in rural areas, AVN programme is evolving into a comprehensive development programme pivoted on the NV concept. In partnership with specialized organizations and professional consultants, we are designing and implementing complementary projects: micro-credit for housing, capacity building and formalization of NV enterprises, NV for agriculture and livestock, NV for re-housing of dislocated families and NV in urban and semi-urban settlements.

These three factors combined could certainly  be great “turbo charge ” for the AVN bus. Internal deployment through the involvement of local civic society organizations, geographical extension (Ghana and Benin soon, but in the next years Niger, Sudan, Mauritania, Zambia...) and associated complementary projects, have the potential to increase the pace  at  which the technique will spread. If we also take into account, that once the technique has been assimilated in a certain area, it continues to spread autonomously, we can be confident of achieving our long-term ambition: by to 2025, 5% of Sahelian people will live in, have built or used a Nubian Vault.

In order to achieve this ambitious target, AVN relies on the considerable number of donations that you, our social investors, are making. We thank you all for your contributions to date, and we hope that your continued generosity will enable us to benefit many more poor people, providing them with decent housing and good jobs, at the same time mitigating the impact of climate change. 

Promotional Meeting in Burkina Faso
Promotional Meeting in Burkina Faso
AVN Academy - Module for Extension Agents
AVN Academy - Module for Extension Agents
Mid-season meeting at Boromo
Mid-season meeting at Boromo
Voute Nubienne women at the Academy
Voute Nubienne women at the Academy
The regional deployment: 10 regions in 3 countries
The regional deployment: 10 regions in 3 countries

Links:

Sep 9, 2013

Results of the 2012/13 season

NV Masons
NV Masons' congress June 2012

AVN-Mali: a successful season

Despite all that has happened in Mali during the last year (the insurgency in the North, the military coup, the refugee crisis, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, the very recent presidential election...) AVN's program has not noticeably suffered.

 The final results of the 2012/13 season, announced at the NV masons' congress in June, are very positive:

  • two new regional centres opened, in Koutiala and Dioila, with local staff promoting the NV concept, and helping to recruit apprentices and support newly trained masons in the surrounding villages,

  • new training modules have been prepared, and successful training workshops run for selected NV masons and apprentices,

  • eight new NV masons have completed their training, bringing the total number of NV masons in the country to 59,

  • these masons and their teams have built 101 vaults during the season, for 72 different buildings; most of these (56) are village houses, the remainder include shops (2), barns (3), village classrooms (3), and mosques (2).

 The success of AVN's work in Mali during the last year has been in significant measure due to the generous donations, totalling £3,996 ($6,240) received in November 2012, and made by people in the UK via Global Giving and JustGiving. These funds have been invaluable in helping to fund the establishment of the two new regional centers and the running of training workshops. Once again, many thanks to these generous, anonymous, donors, who have understood the pressing need for decent housing and economic development in Mali, as the country tries to recover from the events of the last 18 months.  

Map showing new regional centers
Map showing new regional centers
Village house in Dandougou, Dioila region
Village house in Dandougou, Dioila region
Village house in Segou region
Village house in Segou region
Village classroom, Dankoumala, Segou region
Village classroom, Dankoumala, Segou region
Bagnan mosque, Koutiala region
Bagnan mosque, Koutiala region

Links:

Aug 26, 2013

Forthcoming opening of AVN's program in Ghana and Benin

After the successful opening of AVN-Senegal, we are glad to announce you that we are ready for a new scaling up of our program. 

Awareness on qualities of Nubian Vault buildings is spreading: more and more people want NV for their houses, schools, health centers, barns... Also, the effectiveness of AVN's pump-priming market method is increasingly recognized by NGOs, private enterprises and institutions, asking us for partnerships in order to diffuse NV technique in their areas of interest.

The next step we have scheduled is the opening of AVN dissemination program in the first regions of two new countries: Benin, Atacora-Donga region, and Ghana, Upper-East region.

Our teams have already made explorative missions in order to assess the need for Nubian Vaults and the existence of the conditions required to the development of the program in those areas, finding positive answers. The regions, in both cases among the poorest of their countries, have the same climatic and economic conditions, and face the same housing challenges, of the regions where AVN already works successfully. Local people showed enthusiasm in welcoming AVN, and a number of interested clients have already been contacted. Potential partnerships and collaborations are on discussion with private enterprises, NGOs, local authorities, and national institutions. 

For each country, 4 years of project will lead to: 130 NV built on 23 locations, 66 local people involved (masons, employees, key-persons), 260 tons of CO2 economized, 520 trees saved, 1,000 total beneficiaries. Most interestingly, these benefits are not limited to the years of deployment of program: the triggering of a virtuous circle will allow these figures to persist and increase in the following years. We have ambitious goals, but we can achieve them by relying on our experience and our strong motivation. 

What we need, now more than ever, is your support. The opportunity for Ghanaian and Beninois communities to enjoy the benefits that people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal have already enjoyed depends on the generosity of our community of supporters. Thank you for what you have done so far and for carrying on to give us your precious support. 


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