Engineers Without Borders Orange County Chapter
Location: Ewaso Ng'iro River
Expected Traffic: 200 people per day
Footbridge Type: Suspended
Span: 30m (98.4ft)
Partners: Engineers Without Borders Orange County Chapter
The community of Endana is located on the eastern side of the Ewaso Ng’iro River approximately 8 km north of Highway C76 in the Laikipia West District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya. Endana occupies approximately 2 km of the eastern banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River and extends to approximately 5 km east of the River. The people of Endana get medical care, clean drinking water, and education from the Segera Mission facility, which is located directly west of the Endana community on the western banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. To get to the Segera Mission Clinic, before the footbridge was built, people from Endana had to either wade across the Ewaso Ng’iro River or cross over on makeshift bridges made from felled trees.
During the wet seasons from March to June and October to December, the Ewaso Ng’iro River swells and is impassable by wading and the makeshift bridges get washed away. The people of Endana had to walk 30 km round-trip to get medical care at the Segera Mission Clinic. This is over one full day of travel for many members of the community, especially for people at the eastern edge of Endana. As a result, they would not seek medical care until their condition is life threatening.
In 2006, the community worked with the Segera Mission to identify potential solutions to this problem. Thinking together, they all agreed that a footbridge was the best solution to the problem. Due to lack of funding and technical knowledge, all previous efforts to build a footbridge across the river had failed and requests to local government leaders had not been answered. In an attempt to reach out beyond their government, the community of Endana together with Segera Mission posted the potential project to the website of Engineers Without Boarders USA (EWB-USA).
The Orange County Chapter of the Engineers Without Borders (EWB-OC) took on the project in April, 2008. The overall project objective was to build a bridge that allowed year-round access to the medical clinic. We also educated the community members on how to maintain the bridge. Furthermore, we helped the clinic set up appropriate tracking mechanisms to measure impact of the bridge.
In early June of 2009, EWB-OC traveled to the site to asess the needs of the community and the feasibility of the bridge. Prior to the site investigation, we determined a short list of appropriate bridge technologies for this project based on the from the designs by Helvetas that were obtained from Bridges to Prosperity. During the assessment trip, EWB-OC developed a relationship with the community, completed a community heath assessment and a site investigation.
The first task was to develop a relationship with the community leaders. We confirmed everyone involved was committed to the project and informed the community leaders that this would be the community’s bridge and they would be responsible for the construction-labor and maintenance. Only when we were certain that the community was fully behind the project, the necessary permission was obtained and any potential land ownership conflicts were resolved, did we continue to perform the technical evaluation.
With the data gathered for the health assessment, we now have a health and economic baseline that is used to measure the impacts that the footbridge has on the community. Data gathered for the site investigation included determining the best location, a site survey, a geotechnical evaluation and investigation, obtaining climate & hydrologic data including the high water elevation, and determining the availability of construction materials. This data was used to determine the most appropriate bridge design for the project site.