As is the tradition in Burkina Faso, each member of the family is responsible for the well-being of all of the others. Each individual is indispensable for the survival of the community. If one member leaves the community in search of a better life, he tries to compensate for his absence by giving something back. Francis Kéré wishes to fulfill his part of this social duty by offering a new perspective to the whole village. His projects reach way beyond simple financial support.
Education is the base for development
Francis' stay in Europe has shown him that education and training are the basis of any social, professional and economic development. For this reason, his first goal was to build a school in Gando, primary-level education to children. Since then, several development projects have been set up to improve the living conditions in the village. Helping people to help themselves constitutes the basis of all our projects.
Participation creates acceptance
For us, the key to sustainable development lies in community participation, not only in carrying out a project, but in conceptualizing it in the first place. As Kéré says, “Only those who are involved in the development process can appreciate the results achieved, develop them further and protect them.”
The men manufacture the clay bricks, lay the foundations, build up the walls and install the roofs. The women beat the clay floors and plaster the walls. Every morning for a whole year, the children bring a stone for the foundations on their way to school. Participation creates a sense of identification and motivation, and this leads to the project being valued, preserved and further developed.
Every innovation is first introduced into the school and afterwards into the society. Children accept change far more easily than adults, and the next generation will become used to new facilities such as latrines, which dramatically reduce the prevalence of diseases.
Tradition and Innovation
We make sure that the constructions are as economical and simple as possible. To enable the replication of the building designs, the buildings are made of clay which is abundant in the region. With the extremely hot climate, the main priority is to find a design which keeps the buildings cool, without relying on complicated technologies. Kéré’s idea of using an overhanging roof, clay walls and under-floor pipes are an example of how this can be achieved, and talk of this concept is spreading.
Sustainability and durability of our projects stems not only from the finished product, but from the whole process by which the projects are implemented. By helping the community to help itself our projects make a lasting contribution towards a better future.
TEDCity2.0, New York, September 2013
Deutsche Welle, June 2014