Schulbausteine für Gando e.V. (Building Blocks for Gando) was set up by the award winning architect Diébédo Francis Kéré in 1998. Kéré was born in the village of Gando, which lies in Burkina Faso, West Africa, and was the first member of his community to attend school. After studying in Berlin, he felt it was his duty to contribute to his family and to the community which had supported him. To this end, he founded the non-profit organization Building Blocks for Gando in Berlin and went on to adopt an innovative approach of development through architecture.
In 2001, Building Blocks raised the money for the community of Gando to build a primary school. Kéré provided the inspiration for the project. On drawing a preliminary plan in the sand he found the community fully engaged in the project, many of them coming up with their own suggestions of how to improve it. As Kéré says, “Only those who are involved in the development process can appreciate the results achieved, develop them further and protect them”.
Gando is a village of 3000 inhabitants situated in the remote East of Burkina Faso, the 7th poorest country in the world. The village has no source of electricity besides the solar powered lamps, no access to clean water apart from wells, and the literacy rate is well below the national average of 25%. Life expectancy in Burkina Faso is 52. Most people are subsistence farmers, with their livelihoods dependent on the harsh climate – there is virtually no rain between October and June, and daytime temperatures can reach 45°C in the shade.