The next stage of the scaling up of our program in Mali got off to a flying start this October, with eight 5-day training and up-dating workshops held in Segou, and in the two newly opened regional offices in Dioila and Koutiala. These workshops are part of the overall program of the 'AVN Academy', and provide opportunities for exchanging ideas, networking, and – for NV apprentices and masons – complementing the extended on-site training and experience which continues throughout the 6 month construction season.
Three familiarisation and up-dating workshops were held for a total of 37 local 'champions' in Segou, Dioila, and Katiola. These 'champions' (or 'clefs' = 'keys', in French) are locally respected members of the community who are convinced of the value of the NV concept, and who promote it in their own villages, attracting new apprentices, and new clients for existing NV masons. They play a key role in promoting the growth of the market for NV housing, and in helping local NV masons find potential clients.
Also in these three centers, a total of 51 new apprentices have taken part in three 5-day workshops, where they are inducted into the NV concept, and can meet trained NV masons who might take them on for the season of on-the-job practical training and experience.
In Segou, the AVN headquarters in Mali, 11 experienced NV masons took part in a 5-day workshop aimed at helping them in marketing, client relations, project management, and finance - helping them to develop their skills as independent entrepreneurs.
Finally, also in Segou, the 11 AVN field staff came together for a final workshop and meeting to exchange ideas on improving their efficiency and developing their skills in supporting the 'champions' and NV masons in their respective regions.
Your contributions have played a significant role in helping to fund these important start-of-the-season workshops. Once again, many thanks from our field staff, and from the NV masons and apprentices in Mali, for your continuing support.
AVN-Mali: a successful season
Despite all that has happened in Mali during the last year (the insurgency in the North, the military coup, the refugee crisis, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, the very recent presidential election...) AVN's program has not noticeably suffered.
The final results of the 2012/13 season, announced at the NV masons' congress in June, are very positive:
two new regional centres opened, in Koutiala and Dioila, with local staff promoting the NV concept, and helping to recruit apprentices and support newly trained masons in the surrounding villages,
new training modules have been prepared, and successful training workshops run for selected NV masons and apprentices,
eight new NV masons have completed their training, bringing the total number of NV masons in the country to 59,
these masons and their teams have built 101 vaults during the season, for 72 different buildings; most of these (56) are village houses, the remainder include shops (2), barns (3), village classrooms (3), and mosques (2).
The success of AVN's work in Mali during the last year has been in significant measure due to the generous donations, totalling £3,996 ($6,240) received in November 2012, and made by people in the UK via Global Giving and JustGiving. These funds have been invaluable in helping to fund the establishment of the two new regional centers and the running of training workshops. Once again, many thanks to these generous, anonymous, donors, who have understood the pressing need for decent housing and economic development in Mali, as the country tries to recover from the events of the last 18 months.
70% Increase in NV construction since last year
Despite the the insurgency in the north of the country, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, and the accompanying uncertainties which have led to the temporary suspension of the activities of many foreign NGO's, the AVN program in Mali is forging ahead.
Results this year have exceeded our expectations, with 58 NV construction projects completed so far, 12 under completion, and 4 more in the pipeline - the great majority of these projects being for housing and community facilities for rural families. This represents a 70% increase over the results of the 2011/12 construction season.
For the 2013/14 season, discussions are underway for NV masons and entrepreneurs to be involved in re-construction of some of the communal bulidings damaged or destroyed during the fighting in the north of the country.
NV Entrepreneur contracted to build tourist accommodation
One of the aims of the AVN program is to encourage a market in NV construction and paid work for trained NV masons and entreperneurs. Although the main focus is on housing for rural communities, some NV mason - entrpreneurs are branching out successfuly into other markets. Here is one example...
In the countryside a few km from Bamako, the resort Le Campement - popular with families from Bamako at weekends, and with foreign tourists - has just added a set of four NV suites to its range of accommodation options. The building containing the four suites, each with its own lounge, bedroom, bathroom, and private terrace, was built by masons trained through the AVN program in Mali – proof of the entrepreneurship of these men, as well as the fact that the mud brick NV concept is easily adaptable to the requirements of modern tourism.
The Campement is near Kangaba village, and as well as accommodation, promotes local crafts and cuisine, and includes a 20-hectare park, with camping space and facilities for swimming and other sports. The NV rooms are a welcome addition to the range of accommodation on offer, and a tribute to the skill of the NV masons who built them. Because it is a popular weekend resort for families escaping the traffic and bustle of Bamako at weekends, these NV rooms will help promote the NV concept locally, and encourage the further development of the market in NV construction.
Should you have the good fortune to visit Mali and its capital, Bamako, why not stay a few nights at Le Campement, and experience for yourself the comfort and coolness of a Nubian Vault building !
The mid-season results for our program in Mali are good, in part helped by the generous anonymous donations (over £4,000 in total) that came from supporters in the UK via a partnership between Global Giving UK, and JustGiving: a big THANK YOU to you all!
This funding has helped to develop our program in Mali despite the difficult times of the last few months, with the insurgency in the north of the country, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, and the accompanying uncertainties which have led to the temporary suspension of the activities of many foreign NGO's. However, despite these problems, AVN-Mali is developing partnership arrangements with two major NGO's : ADER, a regional economic development organisation promoting decent, sustainable, housing (see link below to their website), and AARAO. The attached photos show a building financed by AARAO for literacy classes in the village of Kewoloya, in the west of mali, near Kayes. The attractive internal rendering and finshes are shown being carried out by a group of women from the village.
Our work with rural communities in the south of Mali has not been affected by the Islamist insurgency in the north; the rains were good this season, leading to a good harvest, and some disposable income for rural families. 22 new NV buildings are either completed or under construction at the moment (mid-February): 17 houses, 3 barns, 1 shop, and 1 school classroom. Further good news is that only one of these buildings is for a client found by AVN – the rest are a result, either of direct contacts between NV masons and clients, or found through the intermediary of local 'champions' (village elders, Imams etc).
In total, there are now 44 active masons in Mali trained through our program, and 96 apprentices in training on NV building sites. The support we have recently received via Global Giving / JustGiving in the UK has enabled us to recruit a local finance / admin officer to our team in Segou, and to start a search for a second regional office to expand our program to other parts of the country.
Please continue to support our work in this, one of the poorest countries in Africa, going through especially difficult times at the moment...
With many thanks from our team in Segou, Mali (see link below)
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.
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