Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Services Program(IRP) written in English, Dari and Pashto
Keshim-Faizabad Road, looking upstream on Kotcha River Schoolgirls at well pumping clean water Afghan workers building part of a bridge Asphalt being laid on an Afghan road A section of North West Kabul Power Plant Aerial view of the Kajakai Dam

Can-Do Spirit Builds Bridges
Workers  place culverts made from metal drums in a canal to channel flood waters away from the approach to a pedestrian bridge across the Helmand River in Uruzgon Province.
Workers place culverts made from metal drums in a canal to channel flood waters away from the approach to a pedestrian bridge across the Helmand River in Uruzgon Province.
The mighty Helmand River, which runs through Uruzgon Province, separates and isolates many villages. Some villages have no schools or medical care, and security problems abound.

USAID, through its Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program, aims to build two bridges in the province to connect communities and create access to basic services.

Despite a myriad of challenges, area residents are supporting the effort to ensure the job gets done with energy and ingenuity.

A local merchant brings in bags of cement by donkey, negotiating the mountains from Kandahar and hiding in caves from un-friendly eyes. When donkeys reach the river, the 50 kilo bags are floated to the other side atop tires that have been lashed together and turned into makeshift rafts.

To transport heavy items, a tractor—which managed to cross the river during a low tide in the summer—has been outfitted with a bucket in front and a trailer in back. The tractor carries cement blocks and trundles materials and supplies that are air lifted by helicopter to the construction camp.

With cement in short supply, a plan was devised to construct culverts using 50 gallon metal drums. By cutting out the bottoms and welding the drums together, workers were able to lay segments end to end and channel flood waters away from the approach to the bridge.

The first bridge to be built is a pedestrian bridge. Prefabricated parts are trucked over land and fitted together at the site. The bridge will allow people and goods to cross back and forth and, in the view of local merchants, substantially increase business while lowering transport time and cost. Women will gain access to maternal and infant care and their families will have improved access to health care and other basic services.

The process and the result are fine examples of how ingenuity and the can-do spirit of Afghans and Americans working together are helping to improve the opportunities of those who seek better lives for their children and families.

 

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