Sustainable Housing for Rural Families in Africa

by Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)
Vetted
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:

Buckminster Fuller Challenge
Buckminster Fuller Challenge

 

AVN one of six Finalists in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2015

After being a semi-finalist in 2012 and 2014, AVN has just been announced as a 2015 Finalist in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a prestigious annual competition named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award”. 

Each year, The Buckminster Fuller Institute invites scientists, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world to submit their innovative solutions to some of humanity's most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy.

Six Finalist proposals, including ours, have been selected out of an entry pool of over 400 applications from 135 countries, and have undergone a rigorous review for adherence to the seven-point Challenge criteria: Visionary, Comprehensive, Ecologically Responsible, Feasible, Verifiable, and Replicable. Our application has been through four rounds of vetting by the members of the Challenge Review Committee, including analysis and evaluation by an interdisciplinary team of experts and advisors.

"Each of these projects deserve the attention of the world for their commitment to 'solving for system' – an approach that takes an unusual degree of insight, patience, tenacity and courage", said Elizabeth Thompson, The Buckminster Fuller Institute's Executive Director. "The teams behind these initiatives have made extraordinary efforts to define the systemic context underlying the problem they are seeking to solve, and have designed strategies that provide enduring and sustainable solutions. Each is a remarkable example of the transformative power of individual initiative and provide much needed hope by demonstrating that solutions to our most entrenched problems are indeed at hand."

After being a semi-finalist in 2012 and 2014, we are delighted to have been chosen among the finalists of this 2015 competition and would like to thank the jury for the honour. We hope to be able to attend the final Award ceremony in Nw York on November 12th. 

Where we stand, fifteen years on

The AVN program, launched in the year 2000, is creating an expanding market for Nubian Vault construction, with an average annual growth rate of around 30% for the numbers of NV masons trained through the program and the numbers of NV buildings and beneficiaries. By 2015, 380 NV masons had been trained through the AVN program, and a further 300 apprentices were in training.

There are over 20,000 direct beneficiaries of the AVN program (representing the people who live in and/or use a NV building). Altogether, NV masons have worked on 1,500 NV construction sites in 700 different locations in 5 different countries, each site including at least one building, representing a total built area of 68,000 sq metres. The majority of NV buildings (1,300) are rural houses, the remainder include 20 classrooms, 57 barns and chicken houses, 13 medical / health centres, 27 mosques, 6 churches, 11 community and training centres, 25 hotel / restaurants etc.. 76% of the clients for NV buildings represent AVN's core target population of subsistence farmers and rural families.

Cumulative cost savings, compared to alternative techniques, are of the order of 2 million euros, representing a significant boost to local economies. Furthermore, compared to altetrnative construction methods, 55,000 tons of potential CO2-e can be saved on the basic structure, and in energy efficiency, over the expected lifetime of the existing NV buildings.

The AVN program is now formally established in five countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin, and Ghana), with five national offices and 13 regional teams . In 2015, 55 salaried local staff were employed in these teams, supported by the actions of 120 volunteers (local village 'champions' promoting the NV concept). The main role of these teams is to establish and nurture local autonomous markets in NV construction through awareness raising and promotional activities (the 'kickstart' method), development of partnerships with local organizations, putting NV masons in touch with potential clients, identification of potential apprentices, support and training of NV masons to help them become independent entrepreneurs, monitoring of results, and technical R&D work.

By 2015, around one-third of the NV construction market is autonomous, with NV masons finding their own clients without the need for intervention by AVN. 15 NV masons have set up their own NV construction enterprises.

 

 

AVN Deployment 2015
AVN Deployment 2015
Awareness raising campaign, Dano, Burkina Faso
Awareness raising campaign, Dano, Burkina Faso

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
$13,694 raised of $50,000 goal
 
106 donations
$36,306 to go
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