The health crisis has left its mark on the year 2021. Travel restrictions have had a particular impact on international travel and meeting capacities. This persistent crisis has weakened the support actions of the head office and its ability to establish and consolidate strategic partnerships. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that it has had little impact on the smooth running of field activities.
The political instability in Mali with repeated coups d'état and the sanctions taken by all ECOWAS countries against it have penalized the program's activities in Mali. The closure of borders has limited the exchange and support of AVN agents and VN masons between countries. The climate of uncertainty has also caused some donors to delay the release of financial assistance to which AVN might have been entitled.
Political instability in Mali and Burkina Faso is accompanied by growing insecurity in the region. Security forces are struggling to stem the spiral of jihadist violence that has left more than 1,400 people dead and more than a million displaced since 2015.
2021 was also marked by the new report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which confirms that the climate is changing around the world and faster than expected. The report establishes without contest the human responsibility on this evolution and underlines the urgency to act to correct this trend.
Faced with this alarming report, the COP26, which was held from November 1 to 12, 2021 in Glasgow, was particularly disappointing. Faced with the timidity of the commitments of our leaders, we prove by our action on the ground and thanks to the financial support of our partners, that it is possible to act and to propose solutions that are both simple and effective.
The objective of AVN's programme aims to scale up the development of the NV market, based on an optimized, global, simple and standardized methodology, transferred to a growing number of operating stakeholders, allowing the multiplication of dynamic territorial market poles and thus, in the long term, a wider viral spread. During this season, the targeted objectives were mainly achieved, allowing a smooth and steady growth of the NV market.
1 - Professional training for youths
Mason VN's basic vocational training program has gone from strength to strength, enabling an increasing number of farmers to engage in this complementary activity to their farming activities.
The new academic entrepreneurial modules have been finalized. They should allow students with little or no literacy skills to acquire simple tools that will allow them to think about a business plan and to project themselves into the future. During the first semester, AVN agents were trained in the deployment of these modules. During the second semester, these agents were able to implement and test its functionality with the learners.
Significant progress has been made in Burkina Faso in establishing partnerships with vocational training actors and institutionalizing training courses. The content of the professional requirements for the first ever "Basic Qualification Certificate" in Nubian vault construction has been validated. It was rolled out in for 107 NV masons in Burkina Faso. 77 of them obtained their very first diploma. Knowing that 70% of them have never been to school, this achievement is a strong recognition of their skills and new abilities. This success underlines how inclusive the training pathway is. A pilot project to implement the training pathway in collaboration with a vocational training centre is also underway in Burkina Faso.
2 - Emergence of demand for eco-construction
Overall, demand is growing steadily, and the project is fully meeting its objectives. Financial incentives for rural subsistence farmers regularly demonstrate their leverage in facilitating decision-making for families living on less than $2 per day.
In Burkina Faso, requests for IDP re-housing programmes continue to grow. AVN have built 135 houses for IDPs in the northern region of Burkina Faso, at the request of WHH, DRC and UNHCR. These housing projects are at odds with the market principle (offer-demand) supported by AVN so far. However, AVN considered that these projects represent a real employment opportunity for the NV masons it trains. AVN also hopes that the visibility and exemplary nature of these bioclimatic houses will have a positive effect on the market dynamics, outweighing the negative risks that donations may have.
The problem of IDPs is acute in Burkina Faso, and the HCR has asked us for a programme of 1,000 VN houses in 2022. Without anticipation, without prior consultation and without taking into account the constraints of earth construction, AVN had to refuse this proposal. After a period of negotiation, AVN finally agreed to commit to a programme of 156 VN in 2022, including the training of new VN masons. Indeed, it seems essential to AVN to maintain the training effort to give us, in the long run, the capacity to meet such demands.
3 - Partners involvement
The implementation of the new methodology of territorial deployment in the framework of projects is progressively taking place with a growing number of partner operators involved. The first experiences with AVIGREF and UCCPA in Benin and FNGN in Burkina Faso allow us to better identify the challenges and ways to improve our collaborative tools. Later in 2020, AVN started new partnerships with other operational partners (APAGAN-B, APAK) in Central East Burkina Faso. In Mali, Yerenyeton and USCPCD joined the implementing partners.
Security constraints and increased difficulties of movement in the areas concerned have had a leverage effect on the involvement and empowerment of partner organisations, which are familiar with local realities and are more able to move around the field. Partner organisations have been led to take more responsibility for implementing activities and promoting the programme.
However, working with a growing number of grassroots partners is a challenge. AVN needs to develop new ways of working to integrate its partners into its monitoring and data collection tools. AVN also needs to think carefully about the transfer of necessary or optional skills, to clearly identify the capacity-building needs that are necessary and feasible for members of the partner groups. At the same time, it is necessary to find the working method and the direct support needed when the reporting requirements of donors make the mastery of administrative procedures too complex and disproportionate for these small organisations. All these reflections were already carried out last year, but only slow progress was made on this subject. This remains an area for improvement that will need to be addressed in the coming years.
4 - Innovation
AVN has been selected by the TUTATOR Foundation to develop a customised evaluation tracking software to meet the specific needs of the AVN programme. The design and development work started recently.
This tool will simplify, facilitate and secure data collection from the field. It should allow for simpler, more reliable and accessible monitoring of the various outcome and impact indicators for a larger number of staff. This tool should allow for more effective and efficient work, rationalising project implementation costs and absorbing the growth of the programme.
The project to finance financial incentives on the voluntary carbon market has been formalised under the name "ACACIAS". AVN has obtained the agreement for a first funding from UNDP to test this innovative mechanism in 2022/2023. An application for co-financing from the French Global Environment Fund is in preparation. Further fundraising efforts to co-finance this specific project will follow.
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