UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA
ENGINEERS IN ACTION:
Bridge Project 2021: Kuñuri Pampa , Bolivia
In late 2020, UAlberta Engineers in Action was assigned our next bridge project - Kuñuri Pampa. Due to the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions, our group decided we would not travel. However, bridge design and fundraising proceeded as usual. Not travelling allowed us to push back deliverable deadlines and focus more on our newly developed design subteams, as well as to conduct some additional research regarding on-site concrete disposal. Although the group was disappointed about cancelled travel, we still utilized this opportunity to learn and grow as a team. We look forward to hopefully travelling in 2022.
Approx. 235 local residents will benefit from increased daily access
The river is impassable in the rainy season from October to March
Local residents are denied access to agricultural lands, the market, the school, and the hospital when the river is flooded
Prevention of approx. 1 injury per year
The site served a small community of dispersed homesteads. The project moved forward haltingly due to the impacts of COVID on municipal budgets, it took time to gather funds and purchase the materials that formed their contribution. Ultimately, however, the project moved ahead.
Construction on the site progressed steadily. Most of the working-age men in the community had left to seek jobs in larger cities, but those who remained worked hard and reliably. Getting materials to both sides of the river required temporary road access via the riverbed. Luckily, the municipality was able to send a bulldozer to cut the paths that were needed.
Work concluded with an inauguration ceremony, attended by the mayor and community leadership. The communities served and the municipal leaders were very happy with the final product.
It was difficult to cross the river at this site even during the dry season, and during the wet season, it was impossible. During the rainy months, the water moves fast and poses a risk of washing people away. With the bridge built, nobody will have to take that risk. Students will now have access to a school only an hours' walk away and will be able to attend class and return home when they wish. The bridge will provide much easier access to health care, markets, and transportation to job opportunities. It is hoped that resulting economic development will allow many people to return to work in the community in the coming years, allowing a repopulation of the area.
On behalf of the community members, the masons, and the rest of EIA, a huge "Gracias" to all who have supported the project. We have been extremely impressed by the dedication of those who have helped us from afar, especially considering the difficult conditions presented by the pandemic.