Sustainable Housing for Rural Families in Africa

by Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)
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AVN signs agreement with Ghana at Habitat III
AVN signs agreement with Ghana at Habitat III

There is not much new to report from our programme in the field since my last update three months ago - building can't take place during the summer (June, July, August), when intermittent and often heavy rains are incompatible with mud brick construction. And many NV masons are also subsistence farmers, busy with agricultural work during these months.

AVN at major international meetings

If the summer rains prevented construction, our AVN-International representatives have been very busy promoting our programme, networking, and fund-raising. Events to which AVN have been invited recently include:

- the Terra 2016 International conference on Earthern Architecture in Lyon, France, July 11-14, where AVN CEO Thomas Granier and colleagues presented  a paper on the challenges of using locally sourced construction materials in the context of AVN's large-scale programme for development of a market in earthern architecture in the Sahel

- the SXSW Eco Conference, Austin, Texas, Oct 10-12, at which AVN was a finalist in the 'Place by Design' competition, in the category 'Resilience & Health'

- the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador, Oct 17-20, at which AVN jointly ran a Networking Event, together with the Ghana Affordable Housing Network and other partners, on "Better building in Africa". As a result of this event, a cooperation agreement was signed between AVN and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development of Ghana, which should lay the foundations for accelerating AVN's programme in the north of the country.

- the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov 7 - 18 which at  AVN had a booth and also took part in many side-events.

AVN's presence at these meetings, through the various networking events and workshops which it organised and took part in, has reinforced the importance of multi-agency involvement in development projects if they are to bring maximum benefits to as many people as possible.

World Habitat Awards 2016

AVN is one of 12 finalists for this year's World Habitat Award (we were also one of "11 outstanding finalists" for the Award in 2009). Let's hope that, this time round, we might win the Award. At the moment, an evaluation team is visiting each of the finalist's projects to advise on who the Winner will be ... fingers crossed!


Remember that it is in some measure due to your support that, over the last 10 years and more, AVN has come to be recognised as a major player for its programme of promoting and growing a market for sustainable, eco-friendly, affordable construction in West Africa. Please continue to help, and to tell your friends, family, and colleagues about our work, to complement the networking and on the international stage by our (very small and over-worked) AVN-International team based in in France.

Habitat III logo
Habitat III logo
Eco SXSW logo
Eco SXSW logo
COP 22
COP 22

Links:

Refugee family in front of their new house
Refugee family in front of their new house

NV masons build village for refugees in Mauritania

Teams of NV masons from Burkina Faso and Mali are building Nubian vault houses in Diakre, Mauritania for refugees fleeing persecution. Many refugee families – such as the family picturedpictured - who have been living under tents or corrugated iron roofing sheets in this camp now benefit from secure comfortable housing, sheltered from the searing heat, tempests of wind, and occasional heavy rainstorms.

This relief programme, financed by the Dubai Charity Association (DCA) involves the construction of 51 houses – 28 of which are now completed and occupied - and three community buildings. It is the result of a partnership between AVN-Senegal, the NGOs Banlieues du Monde Mauritanie and Le Partenariat (Senegal).

AVN buildings on CartoTerra

CartoTerra is an interactive online world atlas of earthern architecture, with images and brief details of a wide range of adobe earth buildings and relevant stakeholders. A representative selection of 50 or so NV buildings (out of the total of over 1500) in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin, and Ghana are featured, as well as AVN's national offices (see Stakeholders). Enjoy exploring the site (see the link below) – it's easy to use, and clearly demonstrates AVN's predominance as a key player in promoting contemporary earth architecture in West Africa.

Thanks again

Once more, many thanks for your continuing interest in our programme to develop a market in decent affordable housing for as many people as possible, and especially for those families struggling to survive in impoverished rural communities, and those suffering persecution and civil disorder..

...and where they lived before
...and where they lived before
View of the refugee village
View of the refugee village
NV house under construction
NV house under construction
Another NV house, nearly completed
Another NV house, nearly completed
Community centre under construction
Community centre under construction

Links:

Koutiala regional office, Mali
Koutiala regional office, Mali

AVN 15th Anniversary

AVN's Annual Report for the 2014 / 15 Season has just been published. As well as summarising the last season's achievements, it also lays out the results achieved by AVN and the teams of masons trained through our programme since the year 2000, when the Association was born. In brief:

- 5 countries and 13 regions of deployment in West Africa, employing 51 staff

- 380 qualified NV masons, and 300 apprentices in training

- 1,500 completed construction sites in 700 different localities, totally 68,000 m2 of NV buildings

- 20,000 end-user beneficiaries

- 55,000 tonnes of CO2 eq potentially spared in initial construction and lifetime energy efficiency

- 2.2 million USD of local economies generated in basic structural works.

These remarkable achievements are the results of the 33% average annual growth rate of the market in NV construction. You can download the English version of the 80 page, beautifully illustrated, Annual Report here.

New regional office in Mali

AVN's new regional office in Koutiala was inaugurated in February in the presence of local dignitaries and M. Harouna Ouattara, supporter of the project on "Zero maintenance Nubian Vaults in Mali" financed by the Air Liquide Foundation.

Completed in August 2015, the construction of this pilot building is the start of AVN's R&D programme in Mali aimed at financial and technical testing and validation of architectural and technical solutions for an urban environment:

  • permanent maintenance-free coatings for external walls (e.g. cement renders over adobe bricks with encrusted pebbles),

  • anti-erosion roof coatings (earth+sand+tar),

  • new designs for parapets (cement blocks and slabs, reinforced concrete),

  • construction of external staircases to maximise use of a roof-terrace.

This first test building has proved the worth of the above techniques and has also led to the training of 9 local masons and apprentices capable of responding to the growing demand for urban and community NV buildings.

The pilot building has already received many visitors. Although urrently used as an office, its design can be adapted for housing or community buildings such as health centres and schools, and AVN is now preparing guidelines to this effect.

Portfolio of amazing photos of NV masons at work

To finish this report, we'd like you to enjoy the superb photos taken by the French photographer Régis Binard, who visited AVN's program in Senegal this year, and sent us magnificent images of NV masons and their work. You can see the full set on his website here.

Best wishes to you and all our supporters from all of us at AVN in France and in Africa.

 

Inauguration ceremony, Koutiala office
Inauguration ceremony, Koutiala office
The AVN-Mali team
The AVN-Mali team
Adobe brick-making, photo by Regis Binard
Adobe brick-making, photo by Regis Binard

Links:

Boubacar Ouily (AVN) & Ambassador Mushingi
Boubacar Ouily (AVN) & Ambassador Mushingi

The US Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Tulinabo Mushingi, accompanied by a delegation from the Public Diplomacy Division of the Embassy, came to congratulate the AVN team for their work on the promotion and diffusion of the NV market, seen as an appropriate response to the challenges of development in sub-Saharan Africa: access to low-carbon housing, creation of 'green' jobs, strengthening of local economic circuits etc.

During this initial surprise visit, on February 19th last, the American delegation saw several NV buildings and discussed key aspects of AVN's program with our national coordination team: the 'kickstart' method, the continuing growth and strength of the NV market, and the emergence of a a network of local masons and enterprises who have adopted the NV concept.

The possibility of support for the AVN program was raised and the Ambassador strongly encouraged AVN to submit specific proposals. He also invited AVN to present our Program at a later meeting, along with other development agencies.

Let's hope this might be the start of a longer term and fruitful  relationship between AVN and the USA.

 

Sesnak (US Embassy) & Ambassador with AVN team
Sesnak (US Embassy) & Ambassador with AVN team
Visiting AVN offices
Visiting AVN offices
NV site visit
NV site visit
A positive conclusion to the visit!
A positive conclusion to the visit!

Links:

AVN Ghana office, Bolgatanga
AVN Ghana office, Bolgatanga

The AVN-Ghana team inaugurated our new national office in Bolgatanga on November 25th 2015. In front of around 50 guests, the building was officially opened in the presence of Seri Youlou, co-founder of AVN, together with representatives of several local authorities and institutional agencies. During the ceremony, several speeches underlined the innovative aspects of the NV concept, the opportunities offered by AVN's presence in Ghana, and the willingness of local authorities to work with AVN.

In his opening speech, Giulio Cocchini, AVN's national coordinator, emphasised the innovatory nature of the NV concept: " We could have founded a building enterprise selling Nubian Vault houses, or we could have donated for charity NV buildings to underprivileged people. Yet, we are convinced that neither by selling or donating houses we could have spread the Nubian Vault concept as rapidly and widely as we did so far. AVN strongly believes in the power of market and operates for allowing a free market for Nubian Vault to emerge."

In his closing speech, the honorary president of the ceremony, M. Victor Atinga, Municipal Director of Bolgatanga's Department of Rural Housing, stressed the need for collaboration between AVN and the local authorities and agencies: "The Nubian Vault Association's local building materials technology and their collaboration with Department of Rural Housing for the operation and functioning of this technology is therefore hereby earnestly recommended to Regional Council, Municipal District Assembly, Government Agencies, Local Authorities and NGOs, with an appeal to you all, to appreciate and help, support and co-operate with this collaborating Unit of Department of Rural Housing and Nubian Vault Association. "

This inauguration opens a new chapter for AVN in Ghana. After over 18 months' presence, during which 6 NV buildings have already been constructed in the country (including a henhouse, a computer lab, a dormitory, and a new wing forn the Royal Palace at Kazigo) the existence of a national office built by NV masons represents a real advance for the program. Its construction reflects the initiation of a relationship with local authorities, clearly demonstrated by the allocation of the site to AVN by the Department for Community Development. It has also provided an opportunity for the on-site training of several Ghanaian masons (12 local apprentices are in training), and a showcase building to attract future NV clients.

The new AVN office will provide an essential logistical support for the effective promotion of the NV concept in northern Ghana - our first formal transfer of the program from a 'francophone' to an 'anglophone' African country. It will also, in conjunction with the AVN Head Office in France, actively pursue fund-raising efforts to help train many more local apprentices and to develop the market for NV homes in the region. Any help you can provide will, as alays, be very welcome.







Guests at the inauguration ceremony
Guests at the inauguration ceremony
Giulio Cocchini & Victor Atinga
Giulio Cocchini & Victor Atinga
The AVN-Ghana team in their new office
The AVN-Ghana team in their new office

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)

Location: Ganges, N/A - France
Website: http:/​/​www.lavoutenubienne.org
Project Leader:
Tony Kaye
Milton Keynes, n/a United Kingdom
$13,730 raised of $50,000 goal
 
109 donations
$36,270 to go
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