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*CANCELLED* Sustainability Education Committee

  • COST

    Free and open to the public

  • TYPE

    Knowledge Community



Constructing Early Childhood Development Centers in Rwanda

Over 40% of children under five in Rwanda are stunted and at risk of irreversible developmental delays. Only 12% of Rwanda children aged 4 to 6 have access to pre-primary programs that could promote school readiness. The poorest households tend to be larger, with 65% of households in the poorest quintile having a child under five at home compared to only 42% in the richest quintile. The Government of Rwanda, UNICEF, and partner organizations realize that these families urgently need support to enable them to better care for their children. Thus in 2013 UNICEF set out to build early childhood development facilities across the country that could model effective programs in each district.

While Construction Manager for UNICEF Rwanda, Nathan Gauthier, director, FM Integration and Sustainability at Shawmut Design and Construction, helped deliver 12 early childhood development (ECD) centers and 7 pre-primary schools in rural Rwanda as well as permanent early childhood development facilities at 3 refugee camps and temporary and semi-permanent ECD and child friendly spaces at another camp set up for those fleeing the crisis in Burundi. Nathan will guide attendees through these projects from site identification, design, contractor selection, construction, project acceptance, and the first year of operation.

The presentation will share lessons learned on getting community buy-in and leading design charrettes in rural areas, quality assurance and quality control when working with un-skilled labor, and designing for increased durability and occupant wellbeing in sites with no electricity and zero operating budget. Nathan will also talk about the work of Active Social Architecture on the building design and collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Design to improve daylighting performance. Occupants will leave with an understanding of the unique challenges of designing and building in rural Rwanda as well as an appreciation for the countries beautiful landscapes and wonderful people.

A summary of the program can be seen here:

This meeting is co-sponsored by the Committee on the Environment (COTE)

To learn more about the Sustainability Education Committee, visit