International Science Programme (ISP)

Ecological construction in Burkina Faso

Staffan Persson, a Construction Engineer from Uppsala University, did his Minor Field Study in collaboration with the Energy and Environment Research Group at University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.

Where did you go and what was your research subject?
I did my thesis in Burkina Faso, West Africa. I did research on how to use local, ecological construction materials to build low energy consuming houses. I was looking for a project focusing on ecological building. The University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso had, with help from ISP, just started a project with the main goal to build a real scale house with all commodities desired in a modern home, only using local materials and renewable energy. It was exactly what I was looking for so I applied and got a scholarship for a Minor Field Study.

Did you reach any interesting results?
Yes and no. I reached many interesting conclusions that helped me do my part of the project and gave me the opportunity to write a good report but a big part of my stay in Burkina Faso was focused on making different samples of clay mixtures in order to create a new building material. However due to insufficient equipment to make and store the samples and faulty equipment to measure it gave me some trouble to find answers to the questions I initially asked in my thesis.

Mr Patrice Godonou (left) from Uppsala University is guided around the construction site by the leader of the project in Burkina Faso, Mr Moussa Sougoti (right).

What would you say are the most important experiences from your time in the field?
Don't be afraid to ask for help from the locals. It doesn't matter if it’s a professor or a cleaner or a mechanic or something else. They know a lot about the country they live in and you are only there for a short period of time, so don't do it the hard way. Simply ask for help if you need it.

If you could do it again would you have done anything differently?
When I arrived I knew very, very little about the country. It was ok for me because I found people quite quickly that could help me around and show me places but still if I had come more prepared I would have been able to see more of the country. It's not necessary to speak the language but it can help many times if you at least have learnt the 100-200 most common words.

Do you recommend others to apply for a MFS grant?
Absolutely! In retrospect the two months in Burkina Faso is responsible for some of the best memories from my time at the University. It is also a very good merit when you apply for a job and in the tough competition it can very well be the thing that gives you edge enough to get you the job.

More Information

Name: Staffan Persson
University: Uppsala University
Field of study: Construction Engineer
Level of thesis: Bachelor
Period and year of MFS: Spring 2013

Staffan Persson did his Minor Field Study in collaboration with the Energy and Environment Research Group at University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.


Read the thesis resulting from the MFS:
Indigenous Materials in Modern Buildings