Kaira Looro - two words in the Mandinka language - one of the main ethnicities in northern Africa and the setting for the competition’s projects. The meaning of these words is purely spiritual, bound up with a profound, intense cultural approach like the Mandingos’. Historically, the Mandingo were all joined together in one kingdom ruled by King Keita. This kingdom stretched from Senegal to Burkina Faso encompassing Mali, Guinea, Gambia and Liberia. Today the Mandingo are mainly concentrated in Mali, south Senegal, Gambia and Guinea.
Their approach to life is spiritual and centres around their divine faith, with even simple ways of saying “good morning” or “good evening” becoming prayers: “Alma kaira siyaa laa”, or “may God give you peace.”
Kaira Looro, meaning “Architecture for Peace”, or “build peace” in Mandingo, is not simply a matter of an architectural process but a bond with culture, its spirituality and a search for an inner spirit set in reality using architectural meanings and passing through respect and humility. It represents a link to a culture, a spirituality and a search for inner reality. The Kaira Looro logo contains three simple elements: waves that represent Kaira Looro’s humanitarian goal, aimed - via architecture - at satisfying the main human needs: health, wealth and nourishment.
Kaira Looro comes from a desire to create a better world based on principles of solidarity and cooperation, using an approach to architecture that is mixed with social and environmental contexts which are continuously being disturbed. The organisation’s ongoing search is an opportunity for further study into an essential topic to the development of our planet and solutions to many of its problems. Architecture for peace, which can be interpreted as a process of exchange and growth in the architectural world, where great minds, young people, professionals and organisations can share ideas in a search for the best solutions to protect our planet and resolve social deprivation issues.
The proceeds from the event will all go to Balouo Salo Association, which works constantly in Senegal to implement social development and support projects. Balouo Salo was set up with the aim of resolving environmental or social emergencies, contributing to improving living conditions among deprived communities in developing countries - particularly with reference to emergencies - and safeguarding environment and culture. The association’s approach is humanitarian, egalitarian and voluntary, working at providing self-sufficiency. Activities are for the sake of others, with no profit involved and a multi-disciplinary approach towards creating across-the-board processes that can improve general living conditions, nutrition and health. The projects aim to create a society based on the values of solidarity, friendship, love, peace and cooperation among populations and cultures, while respecting traditions, genders and religions. In addition to working in the field with its sector projects, Balouo Salo promotes action to safeguard the environment, cultures and traditions and defend basic human rights, by organising events that involve and increase awareness in the international community, like Kaira Looro.
Some of the main projects supported through Kaira Looro funds in the region of Sedhiou, in Senegal include:
- the construction of two solar wells with innovative water purification systems combating viruses such as cholera and giardia and removing salt, delivering top quality water to about 5,500 people. This system brings drinking water to a community enabling family health, especially that of children, pregnant women and the elderly, who are often weaker and more often affected by the viruses found in water from traditional wells to be protected.
- the construction of an education centre for young people in the region, built using natural architecture designed to optimise natural resources. The effects of this project encompass the whole community including a great many aspects of development and involving a wide and varied range of beneficiaries, although the centre is designed for use by the region’s young people. A lack of educational centres promoting training is a constant. Growth and development are always based on human awareness and knowledge, the basic elements in any sustainable, long-lasting development process. Without training, awareness-raising and cross-community attribution of responsibility work, young people’s growth and maturity will be highly limited. The creation of this space is therefore intended to spur and motivate young people, by means of a number of social activities that will take place in the centre, all aimed at increasing awareness, education, cultural exchanges, professional training, development, enterprise development, the preservation and protection of culture and traditions and so on. Focusing on local potential in order to optimise it and regenerate it to aid development - this is the project’s ultimate goal.
- solving the Tanaff valley’s saline intrusion problem which is causing serious food, health and economic problems for more than 80,000 people. This emergency is the result of climate change and the area’s specific morphology which fosters a rare hydrological phenomenon allowing large amounts of salt to settle, making soil acidic, destroying rice fields and contaminating the water bed, generating huge food and healthcare problems for communities in more than 85 villages. The project consists of creating an infrastructure involving high levels of engineering which is 855 metres long and will block access to tides and create a holding basin upstream that will be obtained by the underground waterbed and rainwater. When full, after the rainy season, this basin will dissolve the acids and salts deposited and contained in the ground which will be discharged during the dry season and in special water equilibrium conditions. Discharging this water will therefore wash out the valley, recovering 10,000 hectares of land, decontaminating the water bed and creating an infrastructural connection between the valley’s hillsides, thereby reducing distances to schools and hospitals.