Sustainable Housing for Rural Communities in Mali

by Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)
Mamarila mosque and villagers, Dendjola zone
Mamarila mosque and villagers, Dendjola zone

A key element in AVN's aim to create a sustainable market in NV construction for the benefit of the trained NV masons and their rural clients is the DPPV strategy – the Deployment of the Program from a Pilot Village. Over a period of 4-5 years, the DPPV strategy should result in the emergence of an autonomous, self-sustaining market for NV hosuing, and AVN support can be transferred to new zones.

We now have confirmation that the DPPV strategy really works! The maps in the attached PDF file show graphically, from 2008 to 2015, the growth of the NV program in an area of 50 km2 around the village of Dendjola. During this 5 year period, from a starting point of zero, 24 independent NV mason entrepreneurs have been trained, and over 70 NV buildings constructed, ranging from small single-vault houses to larger buildings such as mosques and community centers. AVN has now withdrawn support from this zone, as a self-sustaining market in NV housing has developed. The extension agents can now concentrate on opening new zones, with the help of some of the master masons trained in Dendjola, who, in their turn, will recruit and train new apprentices elsewhere.

Overall, the growth rate of the AVN program in Mali has been 20% this season, with 83 NV buildings completed, and 3 under construction. There are now 11 AVN local staff – mainly extension agents promoting the NV concept in new areas - in Mali, in Segou and the two regional centers, Koutiala and Dioilia; plans are afoot to open three more regional centers, the first of which will probably be in San.

Your help – especially the generous donation of £4,000 from Global Giving / Just Giving donors in the UK in 2011 - has played a key role in the Dendjola success story and in the growth of our national program: once more, many thanks from our team in Mali for your ontinuing generosity....

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NV house near Segou
NV house near Segou

To help in the scaling up of our programme in Mali, three new staff have recently been appointed:
- a Finance Officer, Alex Dembele,
- two more rural extension agents: Kamon Couloibaly in Dioila, and Mohamed Keita, in Koutiala.
This brings our support team in Mali up to 9 staff, all locally appointed, distributed amongst our main office in Segou, and our two current regional offices in Dioila and Koutiala; two more rgional offices are in the planning stage.

The results of the current season continue to be fruitful, with 17 new projects completed, 12 in progress, and orders for 42 new buildings in the pipeline - all the work of independent NV masons trained through our Program. This is quite an achievement, given the political turbulence in the country during the last year or so. Several of the completed buildings this year have been the result of direct contacts between the clients and NV masons - for example, the family house near Segou shown in the photos for this report.

We continue in our efforts to raise funding to help the development of a desperately needed sustainable housing program in Mali - a need that has become an even greater priority given the refugee situation in the country following the disturbances in the north. For example, AVN had a stand at the DIHAD (Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development) conference in Dubai in March, attended by Thomas Granier, AVN CEO, to help raise funding from Arab and Muslim philanthropists, in part for our work in Mali.

However, such attempts to obtain international aid funding will take time to bear fruit - in the meantime, any help you can provide, and continue to provide, will always be essential for the ongoing success of our program.

Alex Dembele
Alex Dembele
Kamon Coulibaly
Kamon Coulibaly
Mohamed Keita
Mohamed Keita
Thomas Granier at DIHAD, Dubai
Thomas Granier at DIHAD, Dubai

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NV master masons at Segou workshop, Nov 4-10
NV master masons at Segou workshop, Nov 4-10

The next stage of the scaling up of our program in Mali got off to a flying start this October, with eight 5-day training and up-dating workshops held in Segou, and in the two newly opened regional offices in Dioila and Koutiala. These workshops are part of the overall program of the 'AVN Academy', and provide opportunities for exchanging ideas, networking, and – for NV apprentices and masons – complementing the extended on-site training and experience which continues throughout the 6 month construction season.

Three familiarisation and up-dating workshops were held for a total of 37 local 'champions' in Segou, Dioila, and Katiola. These 'champions' (or 'clefs' = 'keys', in French) are locally respected members of the community who are convinced of the value of the NV concept, and who promote it in their own villages, attracting new apprentices, and new clients for existing NV masons. They play a key role in promoting the growth of the market for NV housing, and in helping local NV masons find potential clients.

Also in these three centers, a total of 51 new apprentices have taken part in three 5-day workshops, where they are inducted into the NV concept, and can meet trained NV masons who might take them on for the season of on-the-job practical training and experience.

In Segou, the AVN headquarters in Mali, 11 experienced NV masons took part in a 5-day workshop aimed at helping them in marketing, client relations, project management, and finance - helping them to develop their skills as independent entrepreneurs.

Finally, also in Segou, the 11 AVN field staff came together for a final workshop and meeting to exchange ideas on improving their efficiency and developing their skills in supporting the 'champions' and NV masons in their respective regions.

Your contributions have played a significant role in helping to fund these important start-of-the-season workshops. Once again, many thanks from our field staff, and from the NV masons and apprentices in Mali, for your continuing support.

Apprentices at Dioila workshop, Nov 18-24
Apprentices at Dioila workshop, Nov 18-24
Apprentices at Katiola workshop, Nov 18-24
Apprentices at Katiola workshop, Nov 18-24
Dioila
Dioila 'champions' workshop, Oct 21-27
Segou
Segou 'champions' workshop, Oct 28-Nov 3
Segou
Segou 'champions' group photo

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NV Masons
NV Masons' congress June 2012

AVN-Mali: a successful season

Despite all that has happened in Mali during the last year (the insurgency in the North, the military coup, the refugee crisis, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, the very recent presidential election...) AVN's program has not noticeably suffered.

 The final results of the 2012/13 season, announced at the NV masons' congress in June, are very positive:

  • two new regional centres opened, in Koutiala and Dioila, with local staff promoting the NV concept, and helping to recruit apprentices and support newly trained masons in the surrounding villages,

  • new training modules have been prepared, and successful training workshops run for selected NV masons and apprentices,

  • eight new NV masons have completed their training, bringing the total number of NV masons in the country to 59,

  • these masons and their teams have built 101 vaults during the season, for 72 different buildings; most of these (56) are village houses, the remainder include shops (2), barns (3), village classrooms (3), and mosques (2).

 The success of AVN's work in Mali during the last year has been in significant measure due to the generous donations, totalling £3,996 ($6,240) received in November 2012, and made by people in the UK via Global Giving and JustGiving. These funds have been invaluable in helping to fund the establishment of the two new regional centers and the running of training workshops. Once again, many thanks to these generous, anonymous, donors, who have understood the pressing need for decent housing and economic development in Mali, as the country tries to recover from the events of the last 18 months.  

Map showing new regional centers
Map showing new regional centers
Village house in Dandougou, Dioila region
Village house in Dandougou, Dioila region
Village house in Segou region
Village house in Segou region
Village classroom, Dankoumala, Segou region
Village classroom, Dankoumala, Segou region
Bagnan mosque, Koutiala region
Bagnan mosque, Koutiala region

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NV lounge
NV lounge

70% Increase in NV construction since last year

Despite the the insurgency in the north of the country, the arrival of troops from France and neighbouring countries, and the accompanying uncertainties which have led to the temporary suspension of the activities of many foreign NGO's, the AVN program in Mali is forging ahead.

Results this year have exceeded our expectations, with 58 NV construction projects completed so far, 12 under completion, and 4 more in the pipeline - the great majority of these projects being for housing and community facilities for rural families. This represents a 70% increase over the results of the 2011/12 construction season.

For the 2013/14 season, discussions are underway for NV masons and entrepreneurs to be involved in re-construction of some of the communal bulidings damaged or destroyed during the fighting in the north of the country.

NV Entrepreneur contracted to build tourist accommodation

One of the aims of the AVN program is to encourage a market in NV construction  and paid work for trained NV masons and entreperneurs. Although the main focus is on housing for rural communities, some NV mason - entrpreneurs are branching out successfuly into other markets. Here is one example...

In the countryside a few km from Bamako, the resort Le Campement - popular with families from Bamako at weekends, and with foreign tourists - has just added a set of four NV suites to its range of accommodation options. The building containing the four suites, each with its own lounge, bedroom, bathroom, and private terrace, was built by masons trained through the AVN program in Mali – proof of the entrepreneurship of these men, as well as the fact that the mud brick NV concept is easily adaptable to the requirements of modern tourism.

The Campement is near Kangaba village, and as well as accommodation, promotes local crafts and cuisine, and includes a 20-hectare park, with camping space and facilities for swimming and other sports. The NV rooms are a welcome addition to the range of accommodation on offer, and a tribute to the skill of the NV masons who built them. Because it is a popular weekend resort for families escaping the traffic and bustle of Bamako at weekends, these NV rooms will help promote the NV concept locally, and encourage the further development of the market in NV construction.

Should you have the good fortune to visit Mali and its capital, Bamako, why not stay a few nights at Le Campement, and experience for yourself the comfort and coolness of a Nubian Vault building !

 

Bedroom
Bedroom
Bathroom
Bathroom

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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, United Kingdom