Development Help without Creating Dependency

Baptiste Cammareri
Communication Manager, Association la Vôute Nubienne (AVN)

“Experiences from the Field—Part 4: Using Ancient Techniques in Africa for Today’s Problems”

1. Meaning of a roof + a skill + a market
2. Development help without creating dependency
3. How one doubter became a major convert
4. Resurrecting a lost technique
5. Builders should explore the ancient techniques

While many development projects turn to the latest technologies for solutions, a Burkino Faso-based NGO, Association la Vôute Nubienne (AVN), draws on an ancient Nubian vault technique to help people in the Sahel build their homes. The project—”A Roof + A Skill + A Market”— facilitates apprenticeships with masons to develop an autonomous, self-sustaining market in affordable housing in sub-Saharan Africa. It was the runner-up for Most Promising Approach in the JKP’s Experiences from the Field contest (

Baptiste Cammareri, AVN Communication Manager, told the JKP that the project is quite unusual in that it furthers development without creating dependency. He also emphasized the value of looking at how a society’s elders once solved local problems, because answers to today’s challenges often lie in local materials and traditional know-how. AVN (active in Burkino Faso, Senegal, and Mali) says that more than 12,000 people currently use, live in, or sleep in a Nubian vault building.

Baptiste Cammareri of the Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN) says his non-profit organization’s model is a new type of development — building self-sufficiency among the rural poor without creating dependency.

AVN’s Earth Roofs technique connects local masons and apprentices and rural poor families with an affordable and sustainable building practice. Through this connection, good jobs and good housing is created at the same time without requiring foreign aid. This practice of creating benefits without dependency is quite rare for development, says Cammareri.

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