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Every year, tens of thousands of elementary schools, maternity wards and similar one-story buildings are constructed in Africa. Most of these projects are realised using a trusted 1950s template (concrete walls, corrugated iron roof...), which suits the people who fund such buildings, but not necessarily those who use and have to live with them. This lack of innovation means that there is a great room for improvement to build
- with better interior climate (very important in hot countries)
- with increased local participation (=social impact)
- aesthetically more genuine, more African
Whatever innovation means to the stakeholders of construction projects!
So what is Osafa (going to be)?
There are hundreds of innovative and successful construction projects in Africa that remain isolated experiments since proper channels for knowledge-transfer and lessons learnt are missing. See "Potential projects" for some examples. Knowhow distribution would be particularly important to validate and challenge those experiments, in order to create an ecosystem of evolution and eventually wisdom in that particular area.
Osafa.org will be a Wikipedia-like platform where the "source code" of construction projects, i.e. floor plans, building descriptions, drafts/photos and commercials calculations are being shared under an open licence, ready to be reused or adapted, without licence fees. We want to apply the success factors of Open Source Software to the intellectual wisdom of African architecture. Osafa is to be used by all stakeholders of construction projects in Africa, professionals and hobbyists, Africans and non-Africans, world changers and business people alike.
There are similar challenges in many other areas of development cooperation: just take textbooks and educationial materials for example. Osafa.org is set to be a working showcase for a model of grassroots cooperation in development, and supersede intellectual dependance on the "first world".
Who is behind Osafa.org?
The small NGO "Laafi - Initiative for Development" finances health projects in rural areas of Burkina Faso since 1994. We are a bunch of friends (Austrians and BurkinabÃ©s) and were involved in a range of said construction projects already. In 2005 we started to experiment with knowledge transfer via the internet and launched Burkina.at, a site connecting German-speaking NGOs working in Burkina Faso. Osafa is headed by Helge Fahrnberger, who in his day job builds web applications with a focus on "Social Software" since 1998.
How you can help
We are currently looking for funding. (Osafa is a comparably small project, yet too big to start on an entirely pro-bono basis.) Also, we're looking for people to challenge our concept or help us implementing it. We'll soon put up a "pre-launch-wiki" to collect opinions and project planning details.
We are currently working on a presentation to secure funding.
Also, we'll soon put up a pre-lauch-wiki to coordinate efforts and make it possible for you to participate in the project. Done!