Kaira Looro is a non profit initiative organised by Balouo Salo. The name is made up of words in the Mandinka language, a very common ethnic group in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, and Mali. The meaning of the words is “build peace” or “architecture for peace”, which does not relate merely to “creating architecture”, but also to a state of mind and an approach aimed at building a solidarity-based environment in which peace reigns. A sentiment that materialises through architecture.
The initiative was established with the objective of raising awareness in the international scientific community regarding the topics of emergency and humanitarian aid, while at the same time raising funds for the development of humanitarian projects. The objective of the competition is also to discover and launch young talented architects into the international landscape, giving them visibility through the competition’s communications channels and an opportunity for professional growth through prizes, publications, and internships in prominent firms. As an initiative that is connected to the topics of development and humanitarian aid, the competition promotes an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach. This incentivises research into simple technologies that are capable of providing a tangible answer to climate change, making use of local materials and principles of self-construction.
The first edition of Kaira Looro was organised in 2016 with a workshop, which subsequently became a competition which is held to this day. Kaira Looro enjoys the support of high calibre international architectural firms and prominent institutions which share the values and themes of the competition and participate in the selection and realisation of the projects. Kengo Kuma has been president of the jury since 2017 and in 2020 was named an honorary spokesman for Balouo Salo.
Balouo Salo is a charitable organisation established with the objective of finding a solution to humanitarian and environmental emergencies through the development and donation of projects capable of improving the quality of life of needy communities in developing countries.
The words “Balouo Salo” are in the Mandinka language, the primary ethnic group in the area in which the organisation operates, and were chosen by a local village chief. Their meaning is “a bridge for life”, because through its activities, Balouo Salo creates bridges of solidarity which generate life and prosperity.
Some of the most recent projects developed in southern Senegal are:
- the construction of solar wells equipped with a water purification and sterilisation system in order to reduce infant mortality (Sambacounda and Sanoufily);
- the design of a dam for the recovery of 10,000 hectares of rice paddies that are necessary for the nutritional and financial livelihood of 80,000 people (Tanaff Valley);
- the construction of a 1200 sqare metre multi-purpose cultural centre to promote training activities and preserve local cultural resources as a factor in sustainable development (Tanaff);
All of the projects are realised and self-constructed with the direct involvement of the community in order to encourage appropriation and self sufficiency. The projects are financed entirely through private donations and fundraising initiatives like “Kaira Looro”.
For more information about Balouo Salo, please visit its website at www.balouosalo.com