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Training the Burkinabe in Building Timber-Free Housing Alternatives

Karen Vega's picture

The WB team were welcomed to Boromo (a province of Bales located two hours from Ouagadogou) by a team from Association La Voute Nubienne; a French non-governmental organization(NGO) with field offices in Burkina Faso. Their team is composed of 11 Burkinabes and a French team member, who trains masons to construct timber-free houses using the Nubian Vault technique.

A Nubian Vault house is made from locally available materials and is designed to use no wood. Because the ceiling is raised into a vault it keeps the living space significantly cooler than a typical box shaped house with a tin roof. This design originated from upper-Egypt and is a good example of south-south technology transfer.

The project, funded by the Development Marketplace, is a pilot that will test out a strategy to identify local champions and potential clients for the Nubian Vault houses.

The project plans to train around 45 apprentices to build houses within 80km around Boromo. One of the target villages we visited was Tita. There we talked with Soujou, one of the masons trained by Association La Voute Nubienne. Soujou, a newly trained apprentice, is a farmer. He explained that building becomes his main activity during the dry season. Along with a team of 5 they can make one house in 10 days. The income that is generated from the construction of one house using this technique is around US $238. This goes towards salary for his team and expenses such as food during the construction period. The raw materials such as water, bricks and or blocks are usually provided by the person/family constructing the house. 

The project is an excellent alternative for families in the area who cannot always afford materials such as sawn timber and imported sheet metal for houses. Moreover the estimated life of a tin roof is 10 years compared to brick vault houses that are still standing after 30 years.

In the end, the project promotes a sustainable housing alternative for Burkinabes and helps the environment by avoiding further deforestation. On a grander scale, the project has the potential of sequestering around 350kg of CO2 by the end of the project.

If you come to Boromo, consider staying in la Voute Nubienne hotel, one of the first clients to use this technique in Boromo. You'll have a great stay!

Pictured here: Karen Vega, Development Marketplace Portfolio Coordinator, Myra Valenzuela DM Team member along with Emmanuelle Nikiema, DM project supervisor based in the Burkina Faso Country Office, and Emmanuel Ngollo - from the Africa Environmental Safeguards Team.

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