EIA Bolivia 2019

In the summer of 2019, five DEID members (Becca Leggett, Becca Lau, Will Durbin, Woodley Burrow, Valerie Tsao) will join students from Virginia Tech, Rutgers, and Wyoming to construct a pedestrian footbridge across the Rio Camata, a river that provides environmental growth and irrigation to the Charzani region of Bolivia. This project will ensure safe, year-round access to farmland on both sides of the river for the developing community of Siatha. Because of the community’s location in the Andes Mountains, opportunities to exchange goods and sell crops with neighboring regions are scarce. Thus, the community prioritizes self-sufficiency by cultivating a wide range of agricultural produce, including but not limited to avocados, oranges, and mandarins. However, the Rio Camata river’s fast-paced current and significant depth prevents community members from reaching farmland on the other side of the bank. Especially during rainy seasons, generally from November to March, water flow is dangerously fast, sometimes carrying debris, making it extremely hazardous to cross. Reportedly, 2-3 significant injuries result annually in unsuccessful attempts to cross Rio Camata during high tides. With a secure and durable pathway to greater land space, people of the Siatha community will be able to have a dependable source of income upon which they can expand by producing a greater quantity of crops and subsequently bolster economic growth. Additionally, the bridge will provide year-round access to a school and health clinic which will decrease untreated medical emergencies and increase education. At completion, the bridge will stand as an unwavering symbol of achievement as the Siatha community progresses their infrastructure and economy to new heights.

The project’s physical build timeline will span from late May to early July. The team’s first challenge will be clearing the site, getting rid of plants and roots that may interfere with the build, and ensuring that the area is safe for construction. Determining the layout of the bridge will be a crucial next in the process. Establishing the foundation, tiers, towers, anchors will take up a majority of our stay in country. The last three steps of the build will necessitate the formation of ramp walls, cable hoisting, and laying out the walkway.

Similar to the past partnership with Bridges to Prosperity, DEID will be receiving the generous support of Engineers in Action (EIA) Bridge Program, a new addition to the EIA organization with  the mission of catalyzing revitalizing changes within rural areas by granting access to “essential health care, education and economic opportunities.” For more information on the EIA Bridge Program, please check out: eiabridges.org. With mentors and professional engineers assigned to assist the students throughout their trip, we are looking forward to another great project!

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