Agnieszka;Ashley via Crowdrise
February 13, 2012
Afar School Ethiopia
We are working to build an innovative new school design for the Afar region in Ethiopia. The region has been ravaged by drought in recent years, and schooling facilities in the area are highly inadequate to give the Afar youth a chance at an education. Our design aims to provide ongoing benefits and development for the communities they are built in, meaning your contribution will live on into the future.
Our community focused design utilises traditional local techniques and materials, while introducing some simple and effective new technologies that can be easily learned, adopted, and traded by the community.
Construction - The construction of the school was developed in response to the specific climate and means of the people living in the Afar. We will create a strong frame using simple, proven, joining techniques, and throughout the construction process, employ local people, focusing on passing on our building knowledge to the community.
Materials - The primary material for the structure will be bamboo. In a quickly developing industry it is grown sustainably in a highland region neighbouring the Afar, making it readily available to the Afar people in the future, and easy to transport to the site without use of heavy machinery. Corrugated iron has been chosen as a roofing material on the back of it's ability to be part of a efficient water harvesting system. The walls will primarily be constructed of mats, which we will commission local women to weave, as they do for their own homes, linking our building to the building traditions of the Afar, providing an important employment opportunity, and involving all members of the community in the creation of the school.
Community empowerment - Our involvement in the building process has been carefully thought out, together with the design of the school. We will heavily involved in the beginning, teaching the local workers how to lay basic foundations, create our innovative new foundation connection, pass on the knowledge of bamboo joining, install the roofing material, and initiate the application of the wall mats. Over time our involvement will diminish, to allow the local community to take control of the project for themselves. The design of the school also reflects this, leaving a large external framework, which the locals, given their new knowledge, and within the means available to them, will be able to adapt and build into as they require in the future. We hope this also gives them the opportunity to pass on the knowledge they have gained to others.
Schooling in the region is currently conducted in small, unsuitable concrete block buildings with little light; or outdoors next to a chosen tree. Our design aims to provide a level of thermal comfort, and lighting conditions, that will allow children to focus on learning.
Temperature - The building is orientated to use the prevailing winds in the area to air to cool the classroom through an open double layer in the roof and walls. Extensive wind flow analysis has been conducted throughout the design process to ensure the kids are keep cool enough in the hot climate of the region, whilst shielding them from wind and dust.
Light - A sheltered area is also created in this orientation, allowing large openings to brighten the classroom to a range suitable for schoolwork. The extended roof over the walkways and external area, protect the interior from the hash glare and temperature of direct sunlight.
Wind - All of the openings are easily closed in - the mats act as shade awnings when open that can simply be lowered and fastened to protect from the sometimes harsh winds of the Afar.
Rain - The long lasting roofing material used will protect from rain far into the future, and as the rains in the Afar are typically condensed into short periods, meaning the area is prone to flooding, our building is situated on a raised area of the village.
We have kept in mind throughout the designing of the school that we are not just making a building, but that we have an opportunity to provide other important benefits to the children, and to the local community.
Water harvesting - The roof of the school covers 95m2, which, when calculated for 300mL annual rainfall, will provide 28,500L of water for the children and the village. This will be stored in an adapted dug out tank, commonly used in the region.
Toilets - There are currently no sanitation facilities in the village, as with much of the Afar. This is an obvious health risk, and in particular, adversely affects girls in their schooling. We will provide separate boys and girls composting latrines, with the covers created in a manner similar to the traditional building techniques of the area, but with a clear visual difference to the communities housing. The compost from the latrines, when combined with the additional water harvested by the building, will help to initiate small crop production - a key element to the future survival and development to the local community. The use of purely local construction materials for the latrines aims at further, widespread adoption of such facilities, providing an ongoing benefit to the people of the Afar.