Uganda 2018

About Our Project:

In the summer of 2018, our team comprised of 6 undergraduate Duke students began construction of a 10 meter vehicular causeway in the rural village of Kanyegaramire in western Uganda. We partnered with Bringing Hope to the Family (BHTF), a non-profit organization in Kaihura, Uganda, that works to improve education, health, and self-sustainability in rural Uganda.

About a ten minute drive from the Kanyegaramire town center, the bridge site has had a dilapidated footbridge which pedestrians and motorcyclists have been able to utilize during the dry seasons.  However, the footbridge was not able to support heavier traffic or trade even under the best conditions. Upon arriving this summer, the DEID Uganda team found that half of the bridge had collapsed during the last wet season.  Though not many of the community’s residents are capable of swimming, many still braved the water or hired those who could swim to carry them and their possessions through the water. Once completed, the vehicular bridge in Kahompo swamp will improve access to healthcare, trade, and education.  The DEID Uganda 2018 team hopes that the construction of fundamental infrastructure like this vehicular bridge can pave the way for more improvements and growth in this community.

Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, the travel team met weekly to discuss fundraising, review any changes to the bridge design, give updates from the community partner, and discuss the cultural and ethical expectations within Uganda and for global development. The two project leaders, Angelica Pangan and Nicole Yuen, took the course CEE 315 in the Spring semester of 2018 in order to learn design techniques for the bridge and help guide other team members in civil engineering and general bridge design. Most fundraising was completed through fundraisers, such as selling Insomnia Cookies, through donations, and through grants. Our team received generous donations from friends and family and grants from AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation, the Duke Career Center, and DukeEngage.

The bridge was designed in Duke’s CEE 315 course by a team of student engineers. The initial design consisted of a rock base spanning the across the swamp. On top of the rock, three culverts of 1.2 meters in diameter would be placed to allow water to equalize between both sides of the bridge. Concrete would be poured to surround the culverts and guide rails would be installed to increase safety. The bridge will be able to support a two-axle car. The design was overseen by Duke faculty, the local engineer in Uganda, and the Ugandan government.


In 2018, the team lived in Uganda for 8 weeks to begin implementation of the vehicular bridge. They lived in the guest house of BHTF in Kaihura, about an hour’s drive from Kanyegaramire. The team worked with volunteers from Kanyegaramire and representatives from the BHTF to begin constructing the bridge. This included clearing vegetation on land and the papyrus in the swamp, surveying for the best path for the bridge, purchasing the appropriate materials, and building the rock base. Students learned the importance of effective communication and flexibility while working on this project.

The team was able to cultivate relationships with the volunteers in Kanyegaramire and the workers at BHTF. Students spent time with the kids at BHTF’s children’s home and school, learning new games, cooking food, and painting a mural. Bringing Hope to the Family welcomed the Duke team with opened arms and treated the team like family.