The first phase (Sept 2008 - August 2011) of the unrolling of AVN’s Program in Mali Août 2011, 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.
The 2010/11 construction season in the Sahel is now drawing to a close, as the rains will be starting next month. The results are very promising, and demonstrate how successfully the program is growing. The 400 or so NV masons and apprentices have built this season, since September 2010, the equivalent of 1800 linear meters of vaults in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal, namely 124 buildings made up in total of 255 vaults, each of an average length of 7 meters and the standard internal width of 3,25 meters:
- in Burkina Faso: 82 buildings (= 130 vaults)
- in Mali: 37 buildings ( = 102 vaults)
- in Senegal : 5 large buildings (= 23 vaults).
This season has also seen the first NV house built for a client using micro-credit facilities organised by the NGO Entrepeneurs du monde in collaboration with AVN. This is a small house in the village of Koper, near Dano, Burkina Faso, for Mme Sophie Somda (see photos). We hope that this initiative will encourage other villagers to make use of affordable micro-credit loans to help obtain better housing for their families.
In Europe, the growing reputation of our NGO Association la voute nubienne (AVN) has recently been recognised by the award of the Social Enterprise Trophy (International category) to Thomas Granier, co-founder of AVN. This trophy, organised by the French newspaper La Tribune, with the support of the bank BNP-Paribas, is awarded to the most promising social enterprise organizations in France - AVN was selected by a jury of professionals from 120 other candidates for this award.
Despite this growing international recognition for our work, we still need all the help and support we can get to maintain the momentum of growth in the Program.... there are still millions of families in the Sahel living under terrible housing conditions. We have made a small dent in the problem, but we are still in the early stages of creating a sustainable market in decent, safe, housing for rural families.
Until recently, the main thrust of AVN's work has been in Burkina Faso, and over the border in neighbouring regions of southern Mali. But three years ago, we started getting requests from several organisations for sending trained VN master masons from Burkina Faso to work on projects in Senegal.
Of these requests, the most important has been in the region of Matam in north-eastern Senegal: the construction of a technical training centre and annexes (La maison des énergies) in Thiangol, close to the Senegal river, launched in January 2009, with financial sponsorship from the Communauté de Communes Val de Drôme (CCVD), France. AVN has provided a core team of masons from Burkina Faso, led by VN master mason Camille Sanon, to build the centre and train local apprentices. The main purpose of this centre is to provide training and support for villagers in conservation of the environment of the river basin, renewable energy sources, and local making of tools and other products. The centre includes workshops, meeting rooms, offices, and accommodation units, and the major construction work is now more or less completed (see photos below). Although this project falls outside the main focus of AVN's work, namely to support the construction of houses for villagers, it is serving two very important functions:
- introducing the VN technique to a new region of the Sahel, and demonstrating that the technique is viable and sustainable
- providing a training site for apprentices from local villages and from elsewhere in Senegal, who themselves will spread the technique, recruit apprentices of their own, and kick-start a market for rural housing.
As an example of this last point, in March 2010, in Dakar, Haidar el Ali, President of l’Océanium , and AVN signed a partnership agreement to open a pilot village program in the zone of Kolda, in upper Casamance. Hamidou Diallo, Océanium coordinator in this region, will be project manager for this programme over the next four years. At the moment, a number of apprentice masons from Kolda are undergoing on-site training at the CCVD/AVN project at Thiangol (see photo below). A further 12 apprentices from the the region of Thies, 50 km from Dakar, have also been working on the Thiangol project, and will be returning home soon to start a program in villages close to Thies.
Any support you can provide to help support the new apprentices in Senegal in becoming independent entrepreneurs providing sustainable and safe housing in their villages will be very welcome....
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.
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.
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