Supporting new Town Communities in Ethiopia

Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, is located in the Amhara region in northwest Ethiopia. The municipality of Buranest can be found along the Shene river, one of the lake’s tributaries, around 80 kilometres northeast of the regional capital Bahir Dar. This picturesque landscape has been the stage on which a model of a rural town has been built since 2010.

The model offers its predominantly rural population a new house type and an infrastructure that is tailored to local conditions and that can be built, expanded, maintained and managed by the inhabitants themselves. The buildings are used for agricultural rainwater harvesting and are made of local raw materials such as soil, stone and eucalyptus. Through the two local NGOs, ADA and ORDA, the Arthur Waser Foundation supported the training of the farmers.

After the focus has been on infrastructural, agricultural and organisational development, social issues such as participation, self-administration and collective action are now coming to the fore. In view of this, Ethiopian collaborators of the project founded the voluntary «Association for Building Communities» with the aim of learning from the Buranest model and promoting the development of self-reliant town communities across the country. The Arthur Waser Foundation helps in analysing the Buranest experience and in the publication of a corresponding manual for replication.

Currently, the NESTown project is background of a TV and cinema documentary by Yared Zeleke and Dodo Hunziker. The anticipated theatre debut of «Urban Genesis» is planned for June 2022.