Why build bridges? Ending Rural Isolation


Why build bridges?

I have been speaking with village chiefs about their needs for a safe crossing; I have learned about the lack of access to school, healthcare, and jobs. I have heard their recounting of the many injuries and deaths at these dangerous crossings.

  • Communities living in isolation experience periods during the year where rivers make it dangerous or impossible to reach schools, clinics, markets, and jobs [1].
    • I have been conducting needs assessments for some of these crossings and I have learned from the village chiefs how the people who attempt to cross  these rivers lose their lives in the currents.
      • They fall and are swept away while wading on foot or swimming across. They even slip and fall off rotting logs, hitting their head and drowning. Some people run to escape the the flash floods and massive mud slides and fall into the waters that they are trying to escape.
  • Lack of access to essential resources like schools, clinics, markets, and jobs has been shown to be a root cause of chronic poverty [1].
    • School headmasters have shown me how their rosters dwindle during the rainy seasons. Village chiefs have told me how their sick needlessly pass away because they can not deliver them to the clinics in time. Farmers have told me how their food will parish before they can get it to a market to sell and how many hours it takes for them to find a safe crossing to be able to deliver their goods and livestock to markets.
  • Growth in income, improvements in health, and increased quality education require investment in transportation infrastructure [2].
  • Inclusive and sustainable transportation infrastructure development allows for rapid and sustained increases in living standards for all people [2].
  • Brooks found that after a community is provided safe access via a bridge, farm profits increased by 75%, and labor market income increased by 30% [1].
    • Brooks found that eliminating the lack of consistent outside market
      access can have a substantial positive impact on long-term agricultural decisions in rural economies. This includes benefits extending beyond the ability to move goods safely and easily across space; it eliminates the upfront uncertainty burden for storage, fertilizer, pesticide, and other needs [2].
    • Additionally, Brooks found that the annual return on investment for these bridges is 19.7 percent over the useful life of the bridge, and over 30 percent of that value comes from the impact on agricultural production [2].
  • Bridges to Prosperity  (B2P) believes that safe access is a human right [3]. We work with isolated communities to create access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers.  B2P estimates a global demand for 100,000 bridges serving 1 billion people [4].  B2P believes that footbridges are the most efficient way to transform rural community economies, and we believe we can scale footbridge programs more quickly than other transportation infrastructure solutions [4].  We are currently realizing our aspirations to create national-level programs for hundreds of bridges, bringing aggregated project procurement, efficiencies of scale, and compelling impact data that facilitates access to financing and funding [4].

[1] Brooks, W., & Donovan, K. (2017). Eliminating Uncertainty in Market Access: The Impact of New Bridges in Rural Nicaragua. In Understanding Productivity Growth in Agriculture. University of Chicago Press.

[2] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/infrastructure-industrialization/

[3] https://bridgestoprosperity.org/who-we-are/our-new-identity/

[4] https://bridgestoprosperity.org/our-future/

Note: Opinions are my own and not the views of Bridges to Prosperity.



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