Eco-Dome signals changes for Djiboutian village
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Caya, CTJF-HOA Public Affairs
KARABTI SAN, Djibouti–U.S. service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa joined with local villagers on the final stages of construction for a new structure here May 22-24, 2012.
The project is part of an ongoing effort among CJTF-HOA, local villagers, non-government organizations and international organizations over the past several months to provide Karabti San, a remote village in the Tadjourah region of Djibouti, with a community building: the eco-dome.
"The intended purpose of the eco-dome is to be a central point in the community," said U.S. Army Sergeant Walter Ellison, U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4902 team sergeant, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "We hope it will be used as a school or clinic."
Hamoudu, a Karabti San villager, said that he is working on the dome because he wants to do good things for his society. "If we use it as a school or clinic, either one will be perfect for us," he said.
Villagers like Hamoudu have been working on the project since the first team came to the village last year and proposed building it.
Most of the building has been done by the people of Karabti San, said Ellison. The CAT 4902 members would stop by to check on the progress of the villagers' effort in building the dome in their community.
Several months into construction, U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Shane Banks, well-drilling noncommissioned officer in charge of 257th Engineer Team, and his team members lent their construction expertise to CAT 4902 and the Djiboutian people for this project.
Banks said seeing progress of the team and the Djiboutians has been exciting because when he and his team first started, the structure was a little over waist-height.
"We are glad to see it come to the end," said Banks.
"You can see a sense of pride in the community," said U.S. Army Captain Justin Lev, CAT 4902 team chief. When the team travels with the villagers to gather dirt for the construction, the workers wave to their neighbors as if to say "look at us, we are going to continue working on the dome," he said. "That's one of the greatest thing - seeing the villagers' pride."
The eco-dome consists of cement, barbed wire and dirt from the local area, said Lev. The workers mixed the cement with dirt and water, put the mixture in donated burlap-like bags, and placed barbed wire on top of each bag to grip it in place while the mixture hardens. The team and villagers repeated the process in a spiral until they had a 600-square-foot structure that stands more than 20 feet high. Once complete, the dome will have a large room, a smaller room for an office and living quarters on the second story. The bags will then be removed from the hardened concrete and covered with stucco, finishing the outside of the eco-dome.
These fairly available materials allow the community members to build a structure themselves, said Lev.
This structure not only signals the prospect of a clinic or school, it serves as a catalyst for more modern upgrades for the village.
Lev said that local Djiboutian government officials will try to bring electricity to the village once the eco-dome is completed.
Working on this project has been fantastic, said Banks. "It's nice to get out and interact with villagers here and be pursuing a worthwhile project."