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....
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