The Songtaaba Women’s Association is made up of approximately 300 members from the village of Gando and the surrounding province of Boulgou. Most of the local population consists of subsistence farmers, selling any excess crops at the market to make a profit. In villages like Gando women play a vital role, taking care of the house and children, while working in the fields. Yet, literacy among women is much lower than among men (according to the World Factbook in 2015 29.3% of women above 15 years old knew how to read and write compared to 43% of men in the same age group). In 1999, the women of Gando established the “Songtaaba” cooperative project. The Women’s Association provides an avenue for the local women to form a strong social and economic union. In order to improve quality of life and break the cycle of poverty, the project seeks to establish a platform for educational campaigns and economic development.
Programmatically, the Center performs two major functions: to provide sheltered space for the activities of the Women’s association and to provide dry storage for grain and other goods. The Center will be equipped with a kitchen, a classroom, an office, and a common area for meetings. As one of the only facilities in the area which offers weatherproof storage, the women will benefit greatly by having a designated area to keep their excess harvested grain to be sold for profit. The Center will also offer adult education classes on agriculture, water management and forestry. It will also host information campaigns organized by foreign organizations or the regional government on health, safety, and sanitation initiatives.
Architecturally, the Center lies on a concrete platform elevated by a series of concrete pilotis. The entirety of the structure and stored goods are thus kept safe and secure from water damage and rodents. Steel-reinforced columns and ring beams support elevated steel trusswork and an overhanging roof of corrugated metal sheet. The walls are built with clay and hand-made pottery produced locally by the women. The pottery is a local technology that has been used to store and transport water and grain for centuries. Cast into the walls of the Women’s Center, the traditional technology is thus combined with more advanced techniques of building.
With support from Kéré Foundation, the Songtaaba Women’s Center is being built with voluntary contributions and labor from the local village communities.
STATUS: Under Construction
SITE: Gando / Burkina Faso
SIZE: 350 m²
CLIENT: Songtaaba Women's Association / Kéré Foundation e.V.