Desert storm – Deforestation and climate change has drastically reduced the supply of wood and straw in the Sahel region of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Among the damaging effects of this is a shortage of material to build and maintain homes, and millions now suffer in sub-standard housing.
Out of place – Many families have been forced to use corrugated iron instead, which is far more expensive and ill-suited to the climate, making homes that boil in summer and freeze in winter.
Dirt cheap – A novel solution from NGO La Voute Nubienne (Nubian Vault) is to revive the architectural techniques practiced by the ancient Nubian civilization over 3,000 years ago.
The method uses earth-based bricks and mortar to construct superior homes at minimal expense.
Rapid response – The homes are based on a foundation of rocks but require no imported materials. They can be constructed in 15 days for as little as $150.
Work force – The NGO has a market-based approach to proliferating the Nubian vault homes. It has trained over 500 masons and hundreds more apprentices who can respond to public demand and train a new generation.
Spreading the word – Around 20,000 people now live in Nubian vaults across five countries where the program is being implemented; Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin and Ghana, with plans to expand into new countries.
Climate control – The homes are well-suited to the local climate, retaining heat at night but remaining cool during the day.
All purpose – The method is versatile enough to provide for a range of needs, such as this basic unit for a small family...
Going up – ...As well as this two-story home for a family that needs more space.
Luxury option – Nubian vaults can also be grand affairs with several rooms and levels.
Public interest – The program also goes beyond homes to provide public and community buildings such as this literacy center.