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Our Program
2018
2017
2016
El Zarzal
Nicaragua
Bridge Span (feet)
Team Members
Working Days
Lives Improved

The community of El Zarzal is located in the district of San Dionisio in Nicaragua. A new bridge will directly serve the communities of El Zarzal, Jaguas, El Corozo and El Quebrachal that are all affected by the river that winds between them, the Rio Calico. Many residents are farmers who must cross the river to access their fields and the markets to sell their crops. Young children also must cross the river to attend one of two primary schools in the nearby community of El Corozo. The river also is a barrier to reaching the nearest town center in San Dionisio.

Crossing the river can be dangerous, and sometimes impossible during the four-month rainy season, causing interruptions in work and income. The high water marker at the project site showed us that when flooded, the river rises above a man’s head by a significant margin, creating a potentially life-threatening journey for local residents. It became obvious to our team that a suspension footbridge was necessary in order to ensure that local communities are not cut off from one another and the essential resources that they need, not only to survive, but to thrive.

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The Region
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The community of El Zarzal is located in the district of San Dionisio in Nicaragua. A new bridge will directly serve the communities of El Zarzal, Jaguas, El Corozo and El Quebrachal that are all affected by the river that winds between them, the Rio Calico. Many residents are farmers who must cross the river to access their fields and the markets to sell their crops. Young children also must cross the river to attend one of two primary schools in the nearby community of El Corozo. The river also is a barrier to reaching the nearest town center in San Dionisio.

Crossing the river can be dangerous, and sometimes impossible during the four-month rainy season, causing interruptions in work and income. The high water marker at the project site showed us that when flooded, the river rises above a man’s head by a significant margin, creating a potentially life-threatening journey for local residents. It became obvious to our team that a suspension footbridge was necessary in order to ensure that local communities are not cut off from one another and the essential resources that they need, not only to survive, but to thrive.

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The Project
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Early portions of construction started several months before our team arrived on site and involved creating the concrete ramps that lead up to the bridge and creating the places for the bridge anchors, in addition to clearing and grading work. When we arrived, we were armed with a context-sensitive, cost-effective and sustainable bridge design provided by B2P. Along with B2P’s in-country team members and the local communities, we built the scaffolding, prepared the site for construction, lifted the towers using a robust pulley system, pulled support cables across the bridge span and installed the decking and fencing.

Intermittent rain interrupted construction a few times throughout the project, but ultimately did not impact our timeline because we had more than a few helpers from the local communities, including many hard-working young children eager to get involved in any part of the project where we needed extra hands.

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Our Impact
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The construction of the suspension footbridge in Nicaragua, improved mobility and access for nearly 2,000 residents, including 139 families in the community of El Zarzal and 244 families in nearby communities. The footbridge was the final link connecting all neighboring communities to one another. Where locals once made dangerous crossings or forfeited their ability to reach school, work, emergency health services and each other due to a flooding river, this footbridge will now provide a safe way for the locals to travel without interruption.

Local communities had been asking for a bridge for more than 15 years to ensure the safety of their residents. We realized the success and impact of the project during the three-hour inauguration celebration unveiling the new footbridge to hundreds of community members, some of whom travelled on foot for over an hour to attend and join the festivities. During the ceremony, we were especially touched by Oliver, a local musician, who wrote and performed a song to commemorate the new bridge and to thank the team for its help and friendship. Seeing the looks of glee and awe on the faces of the men, women and children crossing the bridge for the first time was unforgettable. To feel the bridge sway with the weight of so many people crossing was a bit terrifying, but also exciting and incredibly rewarding.

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