Since my last update, I can report that AVN has made significant progress; by the end of the current building season, cumulatively, since the start of the 'Earth roofs in the Sahel' Program: - 190 VN masons will have been trained (including 80 this season) - 900 vaults built (350 this season alone) - 4,500 man-months of salaries generated (1,500 this season) - 9,000 people in the Sahel will have benefitted directly from our Program.
We were able to validate these figures during the Fourth Congress of VN masons held in Boromo last December, attended by 80 VN masons from all over Burkina Faso who reported on their work in progress. The two-storey AVN show house at the Autumn 2008 Salon International de l'Artisanat in Ougadougou (SIAO) attracted several thousand visitors, and will undoubtedly result in further demand for the building of VN homes.
This season also sees further expansion of the AVN Program from Burkina Faso to neighbouring countries: - in Mali, over 15 VN masons have now been trained, and they are themselves recruiting and training further Malian apprentices; an AVN-Mali office has been established in Bamako to oversee further development of the Program, and to handle the increasing flow of requests for VN constructions (including ones from the historic and iconic city of Timbuktu!) - in Senegal, AVN has two different types of parnership agreement, one with a Senegalese construction firm in Dakar, the other with a French NGO financing the construction by VN masons of rural training centres in the Matam region. - We plan to extend the AVN Program to Niger next year: the first VN mason from Niger, Ibrahim Dan Inna, is being trained in Boromo. Ibrahim is deaf, and he is sponsored by the NGO EFIS; we hope to provide employment opportunities for others like him in the future.
International recognition is growing: the AVN Program is one of 12 projects shortlisted to go on to Stage II of the selection process for the 2009 World Habitat Awards. Two awards are given annually to projects from the global North as well as the South that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems. An award of £10,000 is presented to each of the two winners at the annual United Nations global celebration of World Habitat Day.
At a time when climate change issues have reached the top of the global agenda, we are very pleased to be included in Global Giving's "green leaf" selection of projects. The AVN Program is making a locally significant, contribution to reduction of carbon emissions: our ongoing research indicates that use of earth bricks and earth mortar (instead of cement, and metal roofing sheets) has economised the equivalent of over 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions so far.
Your contributions can help scale up this exciting program through acceleration of our apprentice training schemes, the underwriting of new partnerships with NGO's, and the opening up of new action zones in the Sahel and other countries of Africa. In the last few weeks, we have received requests to train local builders in Malawi, Zambia, and South Africa - mainly for building VN orphanages and schools. Your contributions can help us implement these worthwhile projects, as well as to continue development of a real market in the construction of sustainable, ecologically sound, healthy, earth vaulted homes for rural families in the Sahel.
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