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Association La Voute Nubienne

Association La Voute Nubienne


Mobile phone: +393314231697
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Brief description: "A roof, a skill, a market": Earth Roof for the Sahel
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Based on UN figures, 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to decent housing: many families live in fragile tin-roofed shacks, and these are the lucky ones. Because of desertification and overpopulation, the bush timber and thatch used locally for building traditional roofs are no longer available, and corrugated iron sheets are obviously not a solution (too fragile, too hot, too expensive).

Broadening the access to decent housing is not only a matter of comfort. It has been proved the impact of housing conditions on health, economic performance and social life of people involved. Housing, though not adequately considered by global guide-lines of international cooperation, is a basic need for human beings, and a fundamental pillar for building a sound and sustainable development strategy.  

AVN (Nubian Vault Association) has a solution for this serious problem, the program “Earth Roof for the Sahel”, relying on three integrated concepts:  a ROOF, a SKILL, a MARKET. AVN has designed an appropriate building technique, conjugating innovation and tradition. The Nubian Vault is in fact a thousand-year old technique that has been standardized and simplified by AVN’s co-founders, a French builder and a Burkinabé farmer. It enables people to build very comfortable houses, long lasting, cheaper and with zero carbon emission, using only sun-dried mud bricks: NO WOOD, NO METAL, NO CEMENT.

In order to disseminate this technique, we provide on-the-job training to people from rural communities, mostly illiterate and with no alternative to subsistence farming. They acquire a skill and they are able to make a job out of it, becoming NV masons and entrepreneurs. We then support, with an innovative pump-priming strategy, the development of a self-sustaining market for NV in the regions where it is adapted.  AVN’s program is not limited to housing sector: NV technique is perfectly adaptable to a series of more complex buildings: health-centres, schools, public and religious buildings, storehouses for agricultural products, barns for livestock. In order to further increase the possible uses of NV technique, research and development projects are ongoing. Moreover, through our partnerships we provide the access to micro-credits for housing, and we give soon a house to those forced to abandon their due to force majeure events.   

By supporting the peer-to-peer training from Nubian Vault masons to apprentices, and assisting them towards the start-up of their small enterprises, AVN’s “Earth Roof for the Sahel” achieves more goals with a comprehensive program: it broadens the access to decent housing, it reduces CO2 emissions and saves trees, it creates good jobs for skilled and unskilled people, it reduces poverty and malnutrition, and it improves public life of rural communities. 

Up to June 2013, 1,943 NVs have been built in 404 locations. 272 masons have been trained and more than 300 are currently in training. Since 1998, the program has experienced an average annual growth rate of 34% in terms of NVs built, benefitting 13,751 people, and saving 3846 tCO2e and 2642 trees. The returns on local economies amount to 1.451 € million. Perhaps the most encouraging result is that the 30% of the market pump-primed by AVN is now completely autonomous, proving the potential for growth and scalability of the program. 

We are active in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, and we are planning to scale up to Ghana and Benin in 2014. But our work doesn't finish here. Lots of countries, in Sub-Saharan Africa but not only, have economic and climatic characteristics adapted to AVN program.

The efficacy of AVN's progam has been recognised by, among others, the World Bank Development Marketplace, Tech Awards, Ashoka, the Schwab Foundation, Dubai International Awards, World Habitat Awards, and the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Contact email[email protected]
Skype: lavoutenubienne
Telephone: 00 33 (0)4 67 81 21 05