AVN at COP20, Lima, December 2014
AVN was invited to attend the the 20th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP20) to the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), Lima, Peru, Dec 1-12, and was awarded the prestigious Momentum for Change Prize
The Prize was awarded to 12 innovative projects concerned with attenuation of, and adaptation to the effects of climate change. These are distinguished as "Lighthouse Activities", which have developed economic, social, and environmental solutions to the problem. AVN's work has been recognised as of major importance in the Urban poor category for its success in disseminating the NV concept:
the relevance of the NV concept for resolving the urban housing problem
an effective dissemination strategy which has resulted in the emergence and growth of a NV construction market based on trained NV artisans (the offer) and local clienteles (the demand)
the replicability of this strategy conceptually, geographically, and through effective partnerships in the field
the autonomy and durability of the NV markets leading to an endogenous, home-grown solution to the housing problem.
The prize was received by Thomas Granier, CEO of AVN, and Cecilia Rinaudo, our Development Director (see link to a YouTube video of the ceremony)
New AVN Country Programs in Benin and Ghana
In Benin, the AVN team of two (Benjamin Lebault & Narcisse Saré Ali ) is installed in Djougou (north-west Benin) and is guiding the first 2015 NV construction sites and setting up the first partnerships. A couple of NV buildings had already been constructed in Benin in 2011-13, by Pascal Tagali, an NV apprentice from Benin (see photos).
In Ghana, again a team of two ( Giulio Cocchini & Giulio Cocchini )has been established, with an office in Bolgatanga city center, in northern Ghana, not far from the the frontier with Burkina Faso. A first NV building, an IT Centre in Karimenga, is currently nearing completion (see photos).
Any support that you can provide to these new country programs is, as always, very welcome and much appreciated.
The new AVN Program in Senegal is firing on all cylinders!
In addition to the first family houses being built around Thies, where the new AVN Senegal headquarters is based (see my last report), masons trained through AVN have recently completed three important projects:
- a maternity clinic in the village of Nguendar, near Podor, in the north of the country (see the photos, including the one of the first baby to be born in the Clinic),- a primary school in the neighbouring village of Kodith (photo),- a prayer room in the first motorway (freeway) service area to be built in Senegal, at Cambarene, near the capital Dakar (photo).
The maternity clinic and school were built through a collaboration with Le Partenariat, a Senegalese / French NGO workingi n the Podor region. The motorway prayer room was part financed by Eiffage Senegal, part of the Eiffage group of construction companies (and a 'descendant' of the original company that built the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York!)
These three buildings, so different in their functions, share features which their users really appreciate, especially the fact that they are nice and cool indoors, and the thick walls deaden any external noise. However, the primary mission of AVN, of course, is to promote a market in affordable and long-lasting Nubian Vault (NV) housing for rural and peri-urban families. But community use buildings such as schools, clinics, churches etc are important because, in addition to their primary use:
- their construction provides opportunities for training of local apprentices, who can progress to become NV masons in their own right- they are highly visible demonstration buildings for local people, who, having realised how affordable, attractive, and comfortable they are, then contract locally trained NV masons to build family houses.
If you want help us in the challenge of scaling up our Programme in Senegal, any funds you may want to give will be allocated to increasing the recruitment and training of young men as apprentices, and to our work in supporting trained NV masons to become independent entrepreneurs in the country's housing market.
On May 24, 2014, AVN inaugurated its permanent office in Senegal, built by NV masons from Burkina Faso and Senegal. So the AVN-Senegal team, created in 2013, now has a permanent office and show-house, open to the public, to be used as a base for promoting the NV concept throughout the country - in particular in the regions of Saint-Louis and Thiès where AVN is already active, and, soon, in the regions of Diourbel, Fatick and Tambacounda.
The first AVN office built in an urban context
This is the very first time that a team of NV masons has built an AVN regional office in a town centre. It is a two storey building, with a roof terrace, sanitation, and external staircase. The external walls and roof are rainproof, using a technique developed by AVN, using pebbles embedded in the bricks' surface, thus allowing for waterproof cement rendering to be successfully applied. The building is a showcase for the successful use of the NV technique for modern urban housing.
Many local stake-holders attended the inauguration ceremony
The inauguration ceremony (see the photos) aroused a great deal of interest from NV clients, partners, local builders, and many people from the town, impressed not only by the thermal, acoustic, and aesthetic features of the building, but also by the fact that a basically mud-brick house can be made weatherproof, and include modern features and fittings.
Khady Ly & Ndiamé Fall, extension agents with AVN-Senegal said :
" People who had never seen a NV building were much impressed by the concept. Some of our friends had made fun of us when we told them that we had joined AVN, but on the inauguration day they were overwhelmed by the quailty and style of the building, and at last understood our enthusiasm for the technique. "
Comments from visitors:
"No need to talk about what we saw that day - the building speaks for itself: you see it, and you want a house like that for yourself.""It's lovely and cool inside the building - no need for aircon or fans. We were really surprised by the technique !"
During the inauguration, two new partnership agreements were signed with:
- the Belgian NGO Aide au Développement Gembloux (ADG), active in Tambacounda and Thiès,
- the Association Jaambar, a farming organisation in the region of Diourbel, near Thiès.
Building on these new and existing partnerships, the scene is now set for a rapid and successful extension of the AVN Program in Senegal, not only in rural areas, but also, eventually, in the overcrowded urban slums of many of Senegal's towns.
Any help you can provide, as always, is much appreciated.
The NV program in Burkina Faso is growing very successfully – in fact, during the last construction season, the growth rate, in terms of numbers of NV buildings constructed, has been 13% over target: 100 NV buildings completed, with a further 45 under construction. The completed buildings include 35 NV houses for homeless families who were victims of flooding in the Nebba region (financed by the Selavip Foundation), and 3 onion storage barns. Progress has also been made with identifying sources of micro-fiance for impoverished familes, with 12 contracts having been conluded, for 6 completed houses, and 6 more under construction. Much of this progress can be attributed to the fact that AVN now has 21 local staff working to promote the program, with 4 regional offices in the country in addition to the HQ in Boromo. An interesting and encouraging recent development has been that conventional masons, used to building houses with concrete blocks and corrugated iron roofs, have asked to be trained in the NV technique, and have now incorporated the concept into their ongoing work.
In Mali, the program's growth rate has been 20% this season, with 83 NV buildings completed, and 3 under construction. There are now 11 AVN local staff in Mali, in Segou and the two regional centers, Koutiala and Dioilia; plans are afoot to open three more regional centers, the first of which will probably be in San.
In Senegal, the latest development is the construction of the very first NV motorway rest area , including a mosque, on a new section of motorway outside Dakar – built by a team of NV masons from Burkina Faso, who are at the same time training local Senegalese apprentices on-site. This has been a joint neterprise between AVN and Eiffage-Senegal (Eiffage is the present-day incarnation of the company that built the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty!).
After 14 years, the AVN Program is now having a significant impact on housing in the Sahel, with many new partners and sponsors being signed up, and with plans to extend our work to two more countries - Benin and Ghana - next season. As always, we welcome your support to help in the opening of our prgram in these two new countries.
The scaling up of AVN's program in West Africa is now becoming a reality:
- there are now 10 regional AVN offices, including 5 in Burkina Faso (Boromo, Dedougou, Koubri, Bama, Yako), 3 in Mali (Segou, Dioila, Koutiala), and 2 in Senegal (Podor, Thies), with 30 local salaried staff in total (including 6 women), and 84 village 'champions' spreading the word around the regional offices,
- during the 2012/13 season, 219 NV masons and apprentices took part in 'top up' training workshops organised by our local teams in Boromo, Segou, and Podor,
- new programs are in the planning stage in Benin and northern Ghana,
- the average annual growth rate of the overall program, in terms of number of vaults built, is 31%
- in the last construction season, 22% of the NV housing market was completely autonomous, with clients contacting NV masons directly.
Since the AVN program opened in 2000, 916 NV buildings (comprising nearly 1,942 standard vaults) have been constructed by 270 experienced NV masons in 404 different localities in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal. There are now 300 apprentices in training. And we estimate that around 2,600 trees have been saved, and 22,500 corrugated iron roofing sheets economised, as a result of the AVN program's alternative use of mud brick vault construction. Overall, some 14,000 people now enjoy the benefits of NV homes and community buildings.
The two main challenges of the 2012/13 season have been the conflicts in Mali, which have meant that our work has been limited to the south of the country, and the numbers of young men in Burkina Faso who have left their villages to explore for gold, reducing the pool of potential NV apprentices.
Many thanks once again for your interest in our work, and your support of our Program in West Africa, helping hundreds of impoverished families to not only obtain decent housing, but also improve their economic conditions.
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