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 17, 2011

Results & Impacts of the AVN Program by 2011

In September this year, we had a chance to collate the necessary data to provide a review the impacts of the last ten years' work by AVN and its network of masons; the results are very encouraging:

- Since the start of the program, 1309 vaults have been built by Nubian vault (NV) masons and entrepreneurs, for 533 clients, in 244 locations (villages, hamlets, towns) in 3 countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal)
- If all the vaults built were to be placed end-to-end, this would reach a total length of 9.7 km (Note: a standard vault, our unit of measurement, has internal dimensions of 7M long X 3,25 M wide)
- In total, 214 NV masons have been trained, of whom half are at the foreman and/or entrepreneur level; and there are currently 296 apprentices in training
- 10,000 people use, live in, or sleep in NV buildings; of the total built, 85% are for private houses, and 15% are community-use buildings.
- Approximately 18,000 trees, 25,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent, and approximately 15,000 corrugated iron roofing sheets have been saved as a result of NV construction, as compared to the alternatives
- Approximately 750,000 Euros of local economic impacts have been generated by the program
- Since 2000 the program has experienced an average annual growth rate of 36%.

One of the most encouraging findings is that over one-third of the NV construction market is now completely autonomous and self-sustaining: 37% of NV clients are found directly by NV builders / entrepreneurs. Of the remainder, 40% come via a local intermediary or ’champion’, and only 23% via AVN itself. So, in the regions where AVN is active, we are well on the way to a growing and independent market in NV construction, permitting us - with your help -  to soon move on and target our resources in new regions.

The attached PDF file contains slides and images highlighting the above findings - feel free to download this and use to help explain to your friends and colleagues the impacts of our work.

PS Some other news - at the last meeting of the General Asembly of AVN, held in Septamber, I was elected President of the Association, with David Sillou, our IT specialist and strategy expert, as Vice-President.

Links:


Attachments:
Sep 1, 2011

Results of the 2010/11 construction season

VN hen-house , Dendjola village
VN hen-house , Dendjola village

The first phase (Sept 2008 - August 2011) of the unrolling of AVN’s Program in Mali, has now ended. It is the first regional program of its kind to be implemented outside Burkina Faso, and has included:
- a pilot test of the AVN pump-priming strategy (the Dendjola Pilot Village Deployment Program), helping to define local expectations and potential
- the setting up of AVN-Mali and the recruitment and training of an initial local management team
- the training of the first generation of NV masons in Mali (35 so far)
- the construction of 110 NV buildings (= 325 vaults, totaling 2,500 linear meters)
- the setting up of the first AVN ’franchise’ operation in Mali, with the NGO Terre et humanisme in Tacharane.

The full Annual Report from AVN-Mali (2010-11) is attached to this report. It is in French, but contains many photos.

The photo says it all ...  the children of Siaka Djiré (’champion’ of the Dendjola Program) have built an amazing Nubian Vault chicken-house entirely of their own accord (see photo). They must have spend a lot of time observing the AVN masons at work in the village, and decided to go ahead with a project of their own. What greater proof could there be that the NV technique has been incorporated into the local culture? And maybe these kids will form the next generation of NV masons in a few years’ time?

The second phase of the AVN-Mali Program will start in September 2011, and will involve the opening of new franchises, the development of the regional market in NV housing, and the evaluation of the final two years of the Dendjola Program.

Please help with your donations to ensure the ongoing success of the program.

Links:


Attachments:
Aug 24, 2011

A tribute from Canadian film-maker Brian Bragason

Brian Bragason
Brian Bragason

Toronto-based independent film maker Brian Bragason visited AVN in Burkina Faso and in France earlier this year. He is making a documentary celebrating the work of Laurie Baker, Hassan Fathy, and La Voute Nubienne, all visionaries in building affordable and environmentally sustainable architecture for the poor in the developing world. This is what he has to say about his experiences with AVN ..

“…On a recent trip to Burkina Faso I had the good fortune to visit the village of Boromo. To the uninformed observer, Boromo, located halfway between Ouagadougou and Bobo Dialasso, is a road stop. The passing traveler who stops here is bombarded by women selling refreshments that range from the most welcome (water/pop) to the comically inappropriate (bags of onions). Most travelers stop briefly for a refreshment, or a bag of onions, and move on. And yet if they do so they will miss experiencing one of the most exciting developments in social/self-help housing in the world today. For Boromo is the Burkina Faso headquarters of La Voute Nubienne, a non-profit agency dedicated to the transformation of housing in Africa.

Over the course of the last few years I’ve traveled the world researching environmentally friendly building for the poor as part of a documentary project. There are over 2 billion people in the world today living on less than $2 a day and providing decent housing for them is a real challenge. This challenge has vexed some of the best intentioned experts on earth. I shall not name them for fear of incriminating the guilty. The beauty of an organization like La Voute Nubienne is it does not put it’s faith in experts. It does not rely on governments. The dedicated crew running AVN does not believe in top-down solutions. They believe in people. They believe by giving people the expertise to build vaulted roofs and homes using easily found onsite materials you improve lives. And frankly after looking at the results I say they’re right.

In the last ten years AVN has been responsible for building hundreds of homes for mostly low income families in West Africa. Their innovation lies not just in the construction of vaulted roofs but in their approach. AVN is not interested in charity, they are not interested in giving away homes. Their interest lies in empowering people to change the course of their lives, whether it be through training masons in vault building techniques, or communal building, or facilitating the building of inexpensive, environmentally friendly housing.

AVN was born of the friendship of two men, both villagers, and both masons, Thomas Granier from Ganges, France and Seri Youlou from Boromo. Their experience in building comes from building with their own hands. And through their experience, they’ve simplified and standardized building techniques to teach a kind of engineering with the hands. Virtually anyone that goes through AVN’s training program can build a house. Thomas and Seri are aided by a capable crew of European and West African associates all of whom work for an African wage, or on a volunteer basis. And perhaps this is the most valuable lesson of AVN, not just that is has provided homes for thousands of poor people, but that a few good people from different cultures with a good idea and a great deal of drive can make a world of difference.

We’ve see the financial decisions coming out of New York, Brussels, Paris, London, Tokyo in recent years make a real mess. Perhaps we should instead rely on the wisdom coming from Ganges and Boromo for a pleasant change.”

We send Brian our best wishes for the final editing and succesful distribution of his film.

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