Located in the heart of the Sahel desert, the city of Agadez, in central Niger, has long been the major transit hub for migrant from West Africa… Its inhabitants (approx. 110.000) are facing the consequences of a demographic growth that in the last twenty years has led the population of the entire country to double, making housing shortage a city critical issue.
It is precisely to help alleviate this situation by promoting a regulated and sustainable urban development that the municipality of Agadez has envisaged the inclusion, in the new master plan, of a new district located south-west of the vieille ville – the old town, a UNESCO world heritage site, an area with a very high population density –designed to accommodate about 10 thousand people.
This is an important and impressive housing plan: the approximately 55 hectares, currently an arid and sandy land, will accommodate 1000 houses as well as schools, health centers, markets, public officesand all the necessary infrastructures such as water and electricity networks, sewage systems and roads.
As part of this master plan, CISP is building 500 bioclimatic houses in the lots that the authorities have assigned to the project. That is "Urbanisation 4 Change" (U4C), a CISP initiative funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the European Union and UNESCO. It will assign 500 homes to as many vulnerable families in the city.
In close collaboration with the Municipality and the Regional Council of Agadez and with the Sultanate of Aïr – as well as with the immediate involvement of citizens' representatives – the project, launched in June 2020, intends to decongest the old city center, while also enhancing the cultural heritage, creating new training and employment opportunities for the locals and contributing to the social, economic and cultural inclusion of the Agadez population.
“Previously, we have already benefited from a first phase of 100 homes rehabilitated by CISP and today (through Urbanisation 4 Change) there are 500 more families who will get new homes. This is unprecedented. "
Abdourahamane Elhadji Aboubacar Touraoua, Mayor of Agadez.
500 new bioclimatic houses in Agadez
The 500 new houses have been designed to meet many needs: respect for the environment, construction of decent, sustainable and comfortable housing, urbanisation planning to prevent uncontrolled urban expansion. They are all objectives of the 2030 Agenda and Urbanisation 4 Change is working in this perspective. Thus, the project opted for bioclimatic constructions in raw soil, or stabilized compressed earth bricks.
Traditional raw soil architecture is a valuable tool for promoting Niger's cultural heritage and preserving a know-how that is unique in the world and which was at risk of being lost in favor of concrete constructions.
Not only that: these types of construction use locally sourced materials and are therefore more economical and sustainable; they respect the environment by reducing desertification phenomena and maintain an adequate temperature in every season. On the other hand, stabilized earth – with the addition of 8 to 12% cement – is an innovative material which includes a reduced quantity of cement and guarantees greater resistance to atmospheric agents, in particular to precipitation, which is increasingly unpredictable in terms of frequency and quantity in this region of Niger.
Watch the video presentation of the three types of houses of Urbanisation 4 Change (available in Italian and French)
Building a new neighborhood from scratch also requires a lot of skilled labor. To date, U4C has trained over 250 workers in the various roles needed on a construction site and currently employs over 600 workers trained by those who have learnt before them.
"The project has helped many people to get out of unemployment and delinquency. Giving them an income and a daily employment that keeps them occupied all day, we gave a lot of hope to the region of Agadez."
Ibrahima saadou, General Site Supervisor of the Urbanisation 4 Change project in Agadez.
The next steps
323 houses have already been completed, while 41 are currently being tested. The next phase will see the completion of the constructions, the launch of the works of 500 toilets and the delicate moment of the selection, together with the representatives of the citizens, of the neediest families to whom the houses will be assigned.
Stay tuned for the next updates!