We were honored that Chameau Bridge in Haiti was featured in USA Today’s The world’s most spectacular new bridges article.
The Chameau suspension bridge was completed in 2016 and connects the community of Chameau to the town of Moron across the Grand’Anse River.
The bridge spans 109 meters, and was built by Bridges to Prosperity in partnership with CARE and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It provides safe access for more than 40,000 people, 20,000 of which live in Chameau, and use the bridge to reach schools, hospitals, markets, and employment. According to the Mayor of Moron, more than 50 people had lost their lives to the Grand’Anse River in the five years prior to the bridge’s construction.
The Grand’Anse is dangerously high for 30% of the year, and impassable for 5%.
When rains swelled the river, students were cut off from school, and families from the market. Pregnant women were forced to give birth at home, rather than in a hospital, because the only available care was on the Moron side of the river. It’s estimated that nearly $40,000 a year was lost in market income because farmers weren’t able to reach the markets in Moron when the river was high. Many residents of Moron had farms in Chameau, and would lose weeks of crop, and sometimes animals, because they weren’t able to cross the river when it was high to tend them. All government services, including the courthouse and municipal offices, are in Moron, meaning that residents of Chameau weren’t able to reach critical resources when they needed them most.
The communities joined in and invested in the construction of the bridge.
Members of both the Chameau and Moron communities assisted in the construction of the bridge, pulling rock and gravel from the river to fill the pedestals and approach ramps, and helping to carry in the towers, cable, and lumber. Several of these volunteers showed special skill, and have been hired on to the Bridges to Prosperity staff and trained to assist on the construction of other footbridges around the country. The bridge was built without the use of any heavy machinery. Even the towers were raised using a rope system and a hand winch, utilizing scaffolding as leverage.
The bridge was destroyed in Hurricane Matthew, but has been rebuilt and is once again serving over 40,000 residents.
The completion of construction was celebrated with a large inauguration ceremony, drawing residents from as far as Plen Marie, a nearly two-hour walk away. The bridge was in steady use until Hurricane Matthew hit in the fall of 2016. The storm scoured the banks and redirected the river’s flow, creating damage to the pedestals of the bridge. The Bridges to Prosperity Haiti team, with the support of CARE, worked to restore the bridge to service, reconstruction was completed in 2017.