Nov 15, 2018

The Nubian Vault latest news #October

A NV chicken house
A NV chicken house

A UN-Habitat/AVN Partnership

One year after winning the World Habitat Award, AVN recently signed a memorandum of understanding with UN-Habitat for the implementation of joint actions promoting affordable and sustainable housing access for all in Africa.
This agreement establishes a cooperation framework materializing a collaboration initiated several years ago and sustained by common ambitions.

The terms of this memorandum relate, notably, to:

  • Mobilization of joint resources for the implementation of adapted building projects;
  • Information and awareness of institutional, development and civil society actors for their support to the implementation of these projects;
  • Support to training and capacity building of the supply sector to stimulate market development;
  • Promotion of the Nubian Vault concept through exemplary demonstration projects;
  • Joint organization of national and international events.

To AVN, this official support from UN-Habitat brings a new international dimension to the recognition of the programme it leads. This momentum should generate interest from partners and donors, benefitting the programme growth and therefore its impacts.

Moreover, UN-Habitat’s support in advocacy initiatives should being a positive influence on the decisions of public institutions in favour of eco-responsible building solutions, adapted to the needs of their constituents.

Since 2016, AVN’s Burkina Faso received support from UN-Habitat’s focal point in this country for the mobilization of institutional stakeholders, including the Ministry of Urban Plannning and Housing. This support contributed to the political advocacy led these past seasons by AVN for the inclusion of adapted housing practices in local public policies.

For UN-Habitat, AVN’s programme must be showcased as a successful large-scale example of good practice enabling the implementation of a concrete solution for access to adapted and affordable housing for all, as was emphasized by Christophe Lalande during the Award ceremony in Nairobi in May 2017. To date, in light of the programme growth and its results, AVN is regarded as the leading operator for adapted housing in West Africa.


Burkina Faso: The Nubian Vault for the improvement of poultry farming

In Burkina Faso, poultry farming is common practice (by over 86% of the population), especially in rural areas. It contributes to the reinforcement of local economies, increased food security (production of meat and eggs, a revenue generating activity) and social cohesion, allowing for a reduction in poverty.

Welt Hunger Hilfe Burkina Faso (WHH-BF), in partnership with the association Project Ecology and Reforestation (PER) and AVN, initiated a pilot Nubian Vault poultry construction activity in the commune of Kongoussi from January to April 2018. This action aimed to support poultry farmers in the province of Bam (northern central region) in order to improve farming conditions in an effort to adapt against climate change.

This activity inscribes itself within the project: “Changing agricultural practices to prepare against strong rainfall and rising temperatures". Its objective was to test Nubian Vault technology in order to prepare for its expansion on a larger scale.

Using the Nubian Vault technique for the construction of cattle buildings presents many advantages compared to other widespread cement/ metal or earth/ metal building practices:

  • Better thermal and hydric inertia;
  • Better protection against bad weather;
  • Greater confort of use and space;
  • Moderate costs;

all of this to the benefit of farmers and animals, and thus the production process.

The 4 beneficiary poultry farmers (2 of which are women) all contributed to the realization of this pilot project with the providing of materials and preparation of bricks. Later, AVN helped by employing 6 NV builders to insure construction. During this first phase, 4 VN henhouses of 14 m2 were constructed. In continuity of the project, other similar constructions are planned for the next season.


Climate Chance Summit Africa 2018: the commitment of non-state actors for the continent

The first Climate Chance Summit Africa took place in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) last June, as a follow-up to the international event of the same name, but with a focus on the continent of Africa. Amongst the 600 participants from 41 countries (including 27 African states) including regional and local authorities, NGO’s, and civil society actors, AVN was invited to co-chair one of the 10 planned workshops, «The sustainable housing coalition for West Africa », and, as a member of the Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GABC), to co-chair the regional round table for local authorities in West Africa.

The GABC Regional Round Table for Local Authorities in West Africa

Organised the day before the Climate Chance summit by GABC and several other actors, including AVN, this event brought together some 30 representatives of local authorities and key actors in the West African construction sector, to exchange ideas and to develop a regional strategy for transforming the sector.

Amongst the themes covered, AVN, based on its many years of experience in the field, emphasised the promotion of local materials and skills, the various options for financing affordable and sustainable housing, the training and capacity-building of local actors, the coordination of projects with local authorities and civil society organisations, and the accompaniment of States in the implementation of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

The discussions ended with setting up of a regional coalition and the drawing up of a road map.

Workshop on the Sustainable Housing Coalition for West Africa

Following on from the Round Table, AVN organised a workshop to encourage the creation of this coalition of West African non-state actors. Major challenges were evoked, notably:

  • The mobilisation of key actors to bring about change, in particular the local authorities and civil society organisations, often excluded from international climate discussions;
  • The adoption of a simple shared approach to advocacy relating to the real daily challenges faced by members of the coalition;
  • Proposals for specific field projects which can be implemented rapidly;
  • The mobilisation of national and international funding for implementing such projects.

Participation in this workshop was very diverse (representatives of local authorities, civil society organisations, construction specialists, and international development actors) and rich in suggestions for a real sharing of good practice between West African actors. All the participants agreed the need for greater support for public building projects, from their conception to the response from local firms to calls for tender, so as to prioritise adapted and sustainable construction practices. This challenge constitutes the foremost aim for the coalition this coming year, as well as a collective mobilisation of advocacy for specific projects.

From a global perspective, Climate Chance was an opportunity to emphasise the importance of cooperation between government agencies and civil society organisations for the implementation of efficient projects to help fight the impacts of climate change.

Nine local officials signed the Declaration of Local and Subnational Leaders of Africa, including those from Senegal and Burkina Faso, countries where AVN’s programme is active.

The summit closed with the signing of the Declaration of the Climate Chance Summit by the majority of participants.


The GABC Regional Round Table
The GABC Regional Round Table


Aug 22, 2018

The Nubian Vault latest news #Summer

Mboloyel Health Centre (Senegal)
Mboloyel Health Centre (Senegal)

The first building of the NV Fouta project completed!

The Mboloyel health centre, the first completed building in the NV Fouta project in Senegal, was handed over on March 30th 2018 by the Kawral Association (contractor), in the presence of local actors (institutional, technical, civil society, beneficiaries etc.), the project partners (the VN Fouta team, Maison des Yvelines) and builder Habitat Moderne.

This building of 89 m2 was completed rapidly in three months by the entrepreneur Richard Somda (Habitat Moderne) and his highly effective team of 9 NV masons (including one young man from the village who wanted to be trained).

The Conseil Départemental of Matam, represented by M. Hamidou Sow, responsible for cooperation, repeated his commitment to help villages in the construction of community buildings, and to furnish the new health centre as soon as possible with the equipment it needs.

The president of the Kawral Assciation shared his satisfaction on behalf of the entire village: « We were reticent to begin with, but after visiting the Maison des Yvelines we were convinced. We are very satisfied with the quality and comfort of the building, and the speed with which it was completed. We have now discovered another technique for earth construction and are proud to benefit from this NV health centre

Two other buildings are under construction as part of the NV Fouta project: Matam County Hall and a maternity clinic at Polel.


The Mayor of Ouagadougou to be involved in deployment of the NV

At the end of March, the Mayor of Ouagadougou, Armand Roland Pierre Béouindé, and Thomas Granier, CEO of AVN, signed a partnership agreement which aims to accelerate the the diffusion of adapted construction techniques in Burkina Faso, and in particular in the conurbation of Ouagadougou.

This partnership comes under the aegis of the Politique Nationale de l’Habitat et du Développement Urbain (PNHDU), linked to the Plan National de Développement Économique et Social du Gouvernement (PNDES). These political orientations imply a choice of ecologically responsible techniques adapted to local populations and economies, such as the NV, for the construction of public and community buildings.

At the present time in Burkina Faso (and more generally in the Sahel), adaptation of the construction sector is necessary and tends to attract sponsors and hence financial backing. This implies:

  • greater use of locally resourced construction materials,
  • reduction of the need for imported materials with a high negative environmental impact,
  • significant improvements in passive thermal and hygrometric performance and users’ comfort levels,

including a varied range of architectural proposals and competitive costs.

There are plans to construct some demonstration buildings and help support the training of technical staff from the construction sector.

This three-year partnership will:

  • promote the inclusion of adaptation of the construction sector in the development plans for Ouagadougou;
  • respond appropriately to the construction needs of the conurbation;
  • help train and accompany technical staff of the municipality in charge of the sector, as well as artisans, construction firms, and other relevant actors;
  • help preserve and highlight the country’s architectural heritage;
  • involve advocacy and awareness raising activities for political decision-makers, development operators, and international cooperation partners.

AVN is delighted with the perspectives for this new collaboration. Partnerships with national and local authorities are levers for accelerating the diffusion of the NV concept and for multiplying the impacts responding to local development challenges.


Benin: increasing awareness among farmer communities

On April 12, 2018, AVN Bénin welcomed members of the executive offices of communal and departmental Farmers’ Unions, among which:

  • The departmental union of township cooperatives for cotton producers (UDCVPC);
  • The communal union of township cooperatives for cotton producers (UcomCVPC);
  • The regional union of cooperatives for Djougou rice producers (URCPR-D);
  • The communal union of cooperatives for cashew nut producers (UCCPA);
  • The communal union of cooperatives for seed producers.

The aim of the meeting was to identify dynamic and interested Farmers’ Unions with a capacity to assist AVN in spreading the VN concept among their communities (the villagers that constitute AVN’s target population). Ideas for collaboration were drafted with the rice producers from Djougou (URCPR-D), and with the cashew nut producers (UCCPA), who wish to build AVN structures for their offices.

The Nubian Vault technique has been generally well received by farmer communities because it provides solutions to various rural issues (economical structures that are adapted to needs and uses, create job, and strengthen the local economy) and improves the yield and working conditions of those who use it.

As an illustration, the meeting’s participants had the opportunity to visit the AVN offices in Djougou, a recently inaugurated model structure (read the news here).

For AVN, the next step for the coming weeks will be to meet the board of each organization to develop already existing ideas and to imagine new ones.

Signature of the partnership agreement
Signature of the partnership agreement
Awareness of farmer's group in Benin
Awareness of farmer's group in Benin
May 29, 2018

The Nubian Vault latest news #April/May

AVN team and NV masons
AVN team and NV masons

The first NV healthcare building in Ghana

After over a year of preparation, work started at the beginning of February on the construction of a maternity clinic in Balungu (Bolgatanga region). This project, financed by the local NGO Peal Deng and approved by the regional Ministry of Health, represents a major stage in the development of AVN-Ghana’s programme: it is the first NV health centre to be built in the country since the start of the programme in 2014, the result of a fruitful collaboration between a civil society organisation and institutional agencies.

Moreover, the building site will help strengthen the local skills base, as five Ghanaian apprentices will benefit from complete on-site* training by a NV trainer mason from Burkina Faso.

The AVN team hopes that this will also serve as a local demonstration building, to promote the construction of other clinics and to generally improve health care in northern Ghana. The Peal Deng NGO is already planning the construction of two more maternity clinics in the Upper-East region for next season.

*The time scale for the construction has been extended by 30%, specifically to allow extra time for apprentice training.


Benin: AVN’s national office inaugurated

AVN-Benin’s national office was inaugurated on March 30th at Djougou in the presence of institutional guests (local mayors, and representatives of the Ministère du cadre de vie et Développement Durable, and the Ministère de la Formation Professionnelle), technical actors (professional training centres, artisans’ collectives), NGO’s, and those involved in AVN’s programme.

In addition to being the base for AVN’s Donga branch, this new building will serve as a show house for the local region. The office has been designed as an example of a NV urban building, with low maintenance finishes. Through this technique, AVN hopes to win the adoption of the NV concept by local institutions, development actors, and construction firms.

Everyone invited to the inauguration appreciated the aesthetic qualities of the building, but were particularly impressed by how comfortably cool it was, as well as by the many local impacts generated by this type of construction: preservation of the environment, socio-economic development, job creation etc.

As well as showcasing the building, this event was an opportunity for AVN to explore potential collaboration leads with the participants. The Collectif des Artisans and the Centre de la Formation Professionnelle of Djougou, as well as the Direction Départementale de la Formation Professionnelle were very interested in AVN’s core training activities.

A second inauguration phase will be carried out in the the coming months, to target the local farmers’ organisations and gauge their interest in accompanying AVN in the promotion of the concept.


AVN at the World Urban Forum

Cécilia Rinaudo, AVN Deputy Director, took part last February in the World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9), the first global meeting organised by UN-Habitat following the Habitat III Conference in Quito in 2016, at which the new urban agenda was adopted. Over 22,000 participants from 165 countries took part to exchange views and experiences on urban challenges.

At this meeting AVN and the Global Alliance for Buildings (GABC) organised an event on the theme of “eco-energy buildings with zero emissions for durable and non-polluting cities”; invited participants included Yves-Laurent Sapoval, advisor to the French Government’s Ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire and Ernest Dione, Coordinator at Senegal’s Ministère de l’environnement et du développement durable. Addressing many key issues around the crucial transformation of construction practices to ensure the resilience of towns and cities, the meeting was also an opportunity to present the results of AVN’s programme to a wider audience, stressing the importance of adapted housing issues for African populations.

In parallel, the UN Programme for the Environment (UNPE) invited Cécilia Rinaudo to an event on “ecological and durable housing for all”, in particular to address the related economic (affordable housing, job creation) and environmental (local materials, respect for the environment) dimensions.

This was an occasion to point out the various levers used by AVN to promote the long-lasting transformation of construction and housing practices in Africa, e.g.strong political backing and adoption, and the use of financial incentives (along the same lines as the tax credits for energy transition in France).

Finally, this international forum was a chance to initiate support and new contacts with NGO’s and institutional actors, and to renew others, such as with Mali’s Minister of Habitat et de l’Urbanisme , engaged in the promotion of the Nubian Vault with the Office Malien de l’Habitat.

AVN's office in Djougou
AVN's office in Djougou
AVN and the Ministry of Housing of Mali at the WUF
AVN and the Ministry of Housing of Mali at the WUF
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