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Organization(s) sponsoring the project:
FFEM (French fund for world environment), Hermes Foundation, Ensemble Foundation, Artelia, private donors
Created By:hhwang1No presence information
Published:12/17/2012 2:00 PM
Primary Contact:
Baptiste Cammareri
+33 6 83 27 25 01
Country:Burkina Faso; Mali; Senegal
Project dates:
2000 to present
Project Stage:Ongoing activities
Geographic Coveraget:National
Interventions:Entrepreneurship or Business Development Services; Raising Productivity and Incomes; Skills and Training
Target Population:Entrepreneurs and SMEs; Farmers; Lowest Income; Micro and Household Enterprises; Rural; Self-employed; Unemployed; Youth
A roof (Earth-roof) + a skill (mason) + a market (local) 
Impact of project:
Impact evaluation in progress
Project Description:
This project was selected as a runner up in the Experiences From the Field's "Most Promising Approach" category by JKP partners from IDRC, LACEA, McKinsey, AMERU, and Fedesarrollo. Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN)'s mission is to develop an autonomous, self-sustaining market in affordable housing for 70% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa who have no access at present to adequate, safe housing (source: UN-habitat and WRI report 2006). The medium-term objective (by 2020) is to reach 5% of population of the Sahel region with the Nubian Vault (NV) technique. To achieve this goal, AVN offers a solution based on three integrated concepts, A Roof + A Skill + A Market: (1) A Roof: the Nubian Vault (NV) is a simplified, standardized, and proven adaptation of an ancient Egyptian building technique based on timberless vaulted roofs made of earth (adobe) bricks, using only locally sourced materials (earth, water, rocks). (2) A Skill: the selection and training of masons through culturally acceptable apprenticeship programs, learning on the job on actual NV construction sites. (3) A Market: the emergence and promotion of local markets for affordable housing, through supporting the trained NV masons to become independent entrepreneurs. This Integrated concept leads to the emergence of autonomous markets through which, once started, the NV technique is diffused organically. The clients pay 100% of the NV price to the mason (in cash, exchange, or barter). All the masons are independent entrepreneurs, AVN's role is only to pump-prime the market, not to pay for houses nor train masons (trained on-site through apprenticeship). This market-based methodology has a huge potential of development as it meets the needs of more than 70% of Sahelian people.
Why this project is a Good Practice example:
This project came from a need to build comfortable and economic houses with local materials. As this building technique doesn't need any imported materials and is based on free available material (earth), the only cost of the house is related to the labor.

This building technique need labor force and thus create perfect conditions to improve the labor market and create job opportunities. Any man that is willing to learn this building technique can be hired by a mason that needs unskilled workers. (7 workers and 1 skilled mason are necessary to build a house in 2 to 3 weeks), those who want to learn how to become a mason, will learn the technique by apprenticeship on the field.  After 1 or 2 years they will progressively become skilled mason and be able to find their own clients and manage the building of a house. (5 levels of skills, from beginners to full entrepreneur mason)

In December 2012, more than 260 masons have been trained and are able to build a house by themselves. And over 300 apprentices are in training.
This project has the capacity to create jobs for masons but also for people that will spread the word in the villages, making people aware of the NV technique. The more the program will spread, the more we will need people to promote the NV concept. (10 workers hired up to now, and a potential to hire 10 to 20 workers within 2 years.)
Impact Evaluation:
Every year since 2011, a very detailed Impact evaluation, including field and user surveys, is made by Bruno Jarno, an independent engineer specialized in Social Impact Evaluation, in order to get quantitative and qualitative information on the data/impact of our program.
The cost effectiveness of the program is analyzed with the help of SROI (Social Return On Investment) methodology since 2009 and allows us to optimize the efficiency of the program in terms of cost and impacts.
The environmental benefits  has been evaluated by an external audit by  ERM consulting on NV houses – 2011, stating that for each standard NV, the equivalent of 4 trees and 2T of C02 are saved (compared to the same size of house made out of concrete, wood and iron sheet )

Up to now, In Burkina Faso , Mali and Senegal, more than 300 villages have started to be pump-primed, and have at least 2 NV houses built for a total of 1600 NV buildings built since 2000, 260 masons have been trained and there are currently over 300 apprentices in training. 
12,000 people use, live in, or sleep in NV buildings, 19,000 corrugated iron roofing sheets have been economized, 2,200 trees, have been saved, and 3,200 tons of CO2-equivalent economized,  as a result of NV construction and generated 1,200,000 Euros of local economic impacts.
Since 2000 the program has experienced an average annual growth rate of 34%.
Lessons Learned:
When the project began in 2000, these houses were built as a technical challenge, and then the 2 co-founders realized that this technique really answered a local need and that it was worth spreading. They first trained masons themselves, and saw that it was even more efficient when masons trained each other on the field. So they focused on promoting the NV concept in the village in order to find villagers who want to build a house with NV technique and that would provide new building sites to the masons.
Once again, they realize that promoting the NV concept was a long run issue and that it was more efficient when it is made by villagers themselves. So they identified “key persons” among the villagers, that is convinced by the NV concept and that will be able to convince other people in the village.

AVN's role is to pump-prime local markets for the NV technique by identifying key persons in the village that will help masons find new markets and then impulse autonomous local markets so that more people can have access  more rapidly to a decent, cheap and comfortable house. Once the markets are autonomous (in 4-5 years), AVN can pump-prime new markets in new villages and regions.
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