Jun 2, 2020

The Nubian Vault latest news #June

Masons on site
Masons on site

PEJDC: NV training project galvanises rural employment

Burkina Faso, like other African countries, faces severe youth unemployment and under-employment. To confront this challenge, from 2014 the Burkinabe government initiated the Projet Emplois des Jeunes et Développement des Compétences (PEJDC), financed by the International Development Association (part of the World Bank Group) aimed at improving employability through three main modules :

  • access to temporary employment through high labour intensity projects;
  • skills development through professional and entrepreneurship training;
  • institutional support.

In the context of the second module, AVN signed an agreement with the Ministère de la Jeunesse et de la Promotion Entrepreneuriale des Jeunes for the implementation of a component entitled « Formation duale portée par des Organisations Civiles de Base (OCB) pour un habitat adapté dans 3 communes au Burkina Faso » (joint training with civil society organisations - CSO’s - for adapted housing in three communes) between September and December 2019.

In order to involve local actors in the implementation of the programme, AVN led three awareness raising and information sessions for local councils and CSO’s in the three communes. Two CSO’s have been identified for operational follow-up activities and for initiation into the AVN’s territorial methodology: Entraide familiale in Siby and the Association pour la Promotion du Genre et de l’épanouissement de la Femme (APGEF) in Séréna. with their help, 18 trainees have been selected and three trainer masons mobilised.

In the first instance, 3 training worksites have been implemented in each commune (Boromo, Oury, Siby), each employing 6 masons (3 apprentices and 3 Trainer Masons), allowing at the same time for on-site apprentice training and houses for the Trainer Masons, the 9 NV houses built also acting as « show houses » of interest to potential future clients.

To reinforce the on-site technical training, classroom-based training based on the NV Mason’s Manual was organised for all the trainees. The Trainer Masons also benefited from a module on On-Site Training Practice.

Once the buildings were completed, the head masons were able to canvass for their own clients through construction incentives, leading 24 more NV houses being built, each worksite allowing for the apprentices to further develop their skills.

Results and impacts of the project:

  • 33 buildings completed, 24 with incentives and 9 via the training sites
  • 18 trainees involved and continuing their NV training
  • 24 artisan masons with improved skill levels
  • several potential apprentices interested in being trained as NV masons
  • a raised level of demand: several potential clients have contacted NV masons, hoping to benefit from the NV construction incentive programme
  • local institutional actors now aware of adapted housing issues: youth employment, environmental protection, prevention of deforestation, climate attenuation and adaptation etc.


Feb 6, 2020

The Nubian Vault latest news #February

A new year, a new decade, new challenges to respond to, together.

Only a few months after COP25, which clearly demonstrated the difficulties that States encounter in passing from declarations of intention to acts, and the resultant severe delay in implementing measures to respond to climate change, this new decade needs to be one of clear-sighted courage.

As we reach a critical point in human history, the housing challenge is clearly one of the major issues related to ecological, social, and climatic evolution: a major daily preoccupation of billions of people throughout the world.
The population of the ten countries of the Sahel, currently estimated at 300 million - a figure which could double within the next three decades - is amongst the most affected by the challenges of attaining decent and secure living conditions, green jobs,  professional training, local economic growth, and resilience to climate and environmental changes. For the last twenty years, the programme of AVN and its partners has helped provide a global, adapted, and durable response to these challenges by accompanying the emergence and growth of a Nubian Vault construction market in the Sahel, based on locally sourced materials and endogenous skills.

More than ever, this programme must attract and  bring together all possible sources of support and strength to significantly scale up its work and multiply its impacts. Together, whatever form your actions, however modest, may take, we invite you to contribute your thoughts, ideas, and strong commitment to support and enhance the long-lasting, necessary, and fascinating evolution of our programme.

The entire AVN team send you their best wishes for 2020 and the challenging decade ahead.


AVN at the Sudan International Education Conference

From January 25 to 27, 2020, AVN was at the SIEC 2020 (Sudan International Education Conference) in Sudan. Co-organized by the World Bank, the European Union, UNICEF and the Sudanese Ministry of Education, the objective of this conference was to bring the main stakeholders in the sector to identify priorities for the transformation of the Sudanese education system and to propose a collaborative process for the development of new policies and actions contributing to such changes.

AVN’s experience in the Western Sahel over the past twenty years has been presented as a case study. Particular emphasis was placed on the importance of the evolution of constructive practices towards more sustainability and accessibility. This evolution is now mandatory in response of the current environmental and climatic crises and the massive needs in terms of housing and basic infrastructure that the Sahel is currently facing.

AVN at the International Education Conference
AVN at the International Education Conference
Nov 11, 2019

The Nubian Vault latest news #November

David K., NV Entrepreneur
David K., NV Entrepreneur

Trainer masons: a future-looking job

Trained in the technique in 2004, David K. is now a Nubian Vault entrepreneur and trainer mason, having built more than 60 Nubian Vaults and having traines’d many apprentices. This season, he received support from AVN's Training Team on how to use the new monitoring tools. He explains the advantages thereof:

The trainer's role
"As a trainer, I am and always have been "the oldtimer" to the young people on my team, so I try to get close to them to better understand them and to better train them. I've always used the Mason's Manual to explain the technique using images. Those who have been to school can read, and I explain things to them. On-site, if a mason has trouble with a certain job, I observe what he's doing and correct his positioning. The way we use the tools and how they're applied to the work is essential. I pay close attention!
The time spent on training is very important, and I take the time to do it properly. Once I even convinced the team to work with a Swiss engineer for free to learn new techniques. On my own worksites, I always let the client know that I'm going to take extra time for training. Some of them have even paid for members of their family to be trained!
I also try to reproduce as best I can the pedagogical advice given during the annual Masons’ Congresses. I always say that if I train a lot of people well, I could get work for a lot of masons. Thus far, at least 12 of my trainees have become artisans, and I'm very proud of them."

Evolutions in training methods
"The creation of the Trainee Evolution Booklet is an opportunity for training: apprentices know where they are in their journey and that pushes them to develop their capabilities. For example, Wembié [editor’s note: one of David's apprentices] knows the difference between the operations for which he is already proficient and those for which he still needs to acquire or strengthen his skills. He is therefore better able to identify his needs.
At one point, I had three worksites to manage at the same time and my teams had to occasionally quit working to go back to placer mining. I then had to train new masons to rebuild my team and to meet demand, but it was difficult to do so quickly. Now, with the new training methods, I know that I could do that in an efficient way, which is encouraging."


A new NV economic centre in Mali

Two years after the Electrified Activity Area opened in Konséguéla, Mali, a new Nubian vault project led by GERES is now being carried out in the commune of Koury: a Productive Energy Centre (PEC). This will allow about 15 rural companies to carry out their work and to boost local trade, which will, amongst other things, benefit the 54,000 inhabitants of the commune (which covers 16 villages).
Managed by the commune of Koury's Association of Artisans and Workers, the PEC will be supplied by electricity coming both from a local network and from a 100% renewable plant (solar energy and plant-based fuels). This hybrid system will guarantee the autonomy of the artisans in the event of network problems.
The decision to use the NV technique to build this centre makes sense because it will allow artisans to work in optimal conditions given climate constraints, it will boost the impact the project has in terms of energy (reduced CO2 emissions, local materials) and finally, it will allow local young people to be trained and employed in the field of NV masonry.

Masons working on the PEC construction site
Masons working on the PEC construction site
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