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...
Feb 20, 2013

First AVN workshop for Women

Participants at the AVN Womens
Participants at the AVN Womens' Workshop

On Feb 13th and 14th, the first workshop for Burkinabé women involved in the AVN program was held in Boromo. The participants came from 6 different regions of Burkina Faso, and included wives of VN masons, local 'champions' of the program, and future extension agents and 'ambassadors'.

This workshop, the first one aimed specifically at women, was part of the series of training and familiarisation workshops launched in Autumn 2012 under the auspices of the AVN Academy - set up for the continuing suppport and training of NV masons, entrepreneurs, and supporters and their families.  The workshop, run by women members of the AVN team in Boromo, was conducted in several local languages, and covered promotional techniques and issues, styles of VN houses, and sharing of experiences and ideas.

This first workshop marks a turning point in the evolution of the AVN Program, creating a direct engagement on the part of groups of mothers, wives, and daughters in the country in the active promotion of decent housing for their families.


Nov 16, 2012

Results of the 2011/12 season

Ouily & Diallo with table of cumulative impacts
Ouily & Diallo with table of cumulative impacts


Summary of Overall Results & Impacts

 The 2011/12 construction season has shown a steady growth in the results and impacts of our Program in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Mauritania);

  • 2,400 linear metres of vaults built, for 174 new clients

  • 82% of NV projects were for housing (142 out of a total of 174)

  • 62 new localities (villages, hamlets, suburbs...) reached

  • an annual increase of 34% in the number of vaults built

  • 47 new NV masons trained, bringing the cumulative total to 261

  • 91% of new NV construction being in the rural and semi-urban sectors

  • 35% of constructions resulting from direct contact between individual clients and NV masons, without any intervention from AVN – proof of a growing self-sustaining and autonomous market in NV housing.

In total, some 12,000 people now live in and/or use NV buildings, and we estimate that the Program has generated overall economic impacts of approximately 1.2 Million euros (= 1.53 million US$), whilst making carbon savings of approximately 3,200 tonnes of CO2-equivalent, as compared to the alternative traditional or modern construction techniques.

Most of the demand this last season for NV construction has been in Burkina Faso (62%), followed by Mali (25%), and then other West African countries, mainly Senegal (13%). The AVN teams in Burkina Faso and Mali are now headed up by nationals : Boubacar Ouily and Ismaila Diallo, respectively national coordinators for Burkina Faso and Mali.


 A second NV house was built last season in Mauritania (see photo); this beautiful house in the Guidimaka region (Arabic: ), was built by Moussa Kanoute, the first Mauritanian NV apprenticee. It is an imaginative adaptation of the NV technique to local vernacular traditions. Moussa built the house for his family, in their village of Ouloumboni, after only three months training with NV masons from Burkina Faso! For the time being he will be working on NV construction sites in Senegal, before returning to Mauritania as an NV mason.

Any support that you can provide to help us develop an AVN Program in Mauritania, one of the poorest countries in Africa, will be much appreciated....


NV house in Mauritania built by Moussa Kanoute
NV house in Mauritania built by Moussa Kanoute


Nov 14, 2012

More about the 2011-12 season

Vsiting the AVN offices in Segou
Vsiting the AVN offices in Segou

The results of the 2011-12 construction season are good:

  • 16 new NV masons have been trained, bringing the total number of Malian NV masons to 51

  • 600 linear metres* of new vaults were built, for 42 rural / village clients, bringing the total since the start of AVN's work in Mali to 3.1 km of vaults if laid end-to-end!

  • these figures represent an annual growth rate of 23% in vaults built (this rate would have been higher were it not for the current political troubles in the country, which have meant that no further work could be done by NV masons in the Gao region, for example)

  • NV buildings now exist in 94 different localities (villages, hamlets, semi-urban areas) in Mali; 1n 2011-12, 66 localities were reached, so this represents a major geographic expansion during the last year.

* For record-keeping purposes, we now use a linear metre of vault as our standard unit of measure, as vaults can vary in length, and a house or other building can be composed of anything from 1 to 4 or 5 vaults: in village communities, in this case, 600 metres is the equivalent of around 40 two-vault houses or other buildings such as mosques or community centers.

The 2012-13 season has got off to a good start with a recent workshop in our new headquarters in Segou, for familiarising local 'champions' with the AVN strategy (see photos): these are people who are respected and influential in their communities. Back in their villages, they are now helping promote the benefits of NV housing amongst their local communities.

As always, we are grateful for any support you are able to provide to help in the continuing expansion of the AVN Program in Mali, bringing decent and affordable housing to the poorest villages, and training and work for the steadily increasing number of NV masons.

Village 'champions' workshop, Segou


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