Connecting remote populations and unlocking their potential to thrive
“In a moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams”. This Nigerian proverb perfectly suits the visionary work of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), a US-based NGO building trailbridges in remote communities to fight the multiple challenges of rural isolation.
In Rwanda, 63% of the total population live on less than $1.25 USD a day and live in rural areas, without reliable transportation infrastructure that connects them to the wider regions. For these populations, the safety of daily commutes often depends on weather conditions: normal activities such as going to school or selling products to the nearest market can become life threatening during wet seasons.
Building bridges can have a transformative impact on landlocked and isolated communities. A bridge connects rural economies to local, regional and global markets. It opens the door for employment opportunities; and facilitates access to schools and healthcare services. Becoming part of a wider network brings benefits to a whole community, from the younger generations who can access education and jobs, to women, who bear a disproportionate share of the household transportation burden, as well as the elderly, those with physical disabilities, and children.
Over the years, B2P has developed a vast experience in connecting rural communities and unlocking the thriving potential of remote populations. The NGO has built over 350 trailbridges in 21 countries, serving circa 1.2 million people so far. The Trafigura Foundation is proud to back the organisation’s next ambitious project in Rwanda.
In 2019, B2P launched a partnership with the Government of Rwanda to connect the entire country’s last mile by 2024 through the construction of more than 250 trailbridges. B2P will conduct site assessments in consultation with local authorities to understand the potential impact of building bridges on the local society and lead the technical feasibility studies of each project. The organisation will also supervise the trailbridges’ construction (realised with local workforce and providers) and inspections (conducted up to 10 years after the construction of the bridges).
Crucially, the project will be the subject of an impact study carried out in partnership with the University of Colorado, University of Notre Dame and Yale University: the aim is to capture the economic empowerment triggered by the construction of the trailbridges. The finding of the impact evaluation will be fundamental to replicate the model in other landlocked geographies and multiply the effects of terrestrial connections among other isolated communities.
The Trafigura Foundation is contributing to B2P’s project in Rwanda through a three-year collaboration (2021 to 2023) that will support the construction of trailbridges serving a rural population of 750,000.
Only in 2021, B2P has constructed 27 bridges in the country, successfully working through government restrictions and COVID-19 lockdowns.
“The construction of this bridge gave us so many opportunities” says Solange from the Nyarusange community. “We got jobs. We are able to get money to feed and buy clothes for our children. We are also able to pay our annual community-based health insurance subscription fees, whether it rains or not. I manage to come here to work on my farm every day without encountering any problems.”
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