New Longfellow Bridge Goes Up in Honduras

05/26/2009

In 2008, Longfellow provided the funding for the construction of the Longfellow/Santa Rosita Bridge in Yoro, Honduras, allowing an extremely poor and isolated community easier access to humanitarian aid and other basic services most of us take for granted. The project was called GOAL Honduras. The aim of the project was to improve access in 11 communities around the village of Santa Rosita in Yoro (2,207 persons).

The importance of access for these communities cannot be overestimated: the region is extremely poor, has limited access to potable water and no electricity. Before the bridge was constructed, villagers were taking huge detours, sometimes walking for up to 4 hours just to reach the closest health center, or for children to go to school. During the rainy season, the importance of access becomes acute as it will provide an evacuation route and a route for humanitarian aid to bring in assistance.

During the floods in October 2008, GOAL provided humanitarian assistance to 12,000 people who had been forced from their homes. The bridges that GOAL had previously constructed in the area made evacuation and the delivery of humanitarian aid possible.

The municipality of Yoro is one of the poorest regions of Honduras. The terrain is remote and mountainous and access to basic needs such as water, health and education is limited. GOAL has been in the area since 1998 working on disaster preparedness programs, and the construction of schools and water supplies. GOAL is the only international organization operating in this area.

Location

The Longfellow Bridge is located near the communities of Tierra Amarilla, Santa Rosita and Ayapa in the Locomapa area of the municipality of Yoro in Yoro Department.

This is an area characterized by tall mountains and steep river valleys. The first phase of the project was the socialization and organization of the 11 communities that will benefit from the project, as well as the municipal and departmental authorities. These communities have a population of more than 2000 individuals. 86 families have provided labor for the project.

The local communities provided labor and locally available materials for the bridge

Project Objectives and Outputs

Program Objectives:

  • Reduce risk to life in river crossing
  • Provide an evacuation route in the event of disasters (ie Hurricane)
  • Provide an access route for humanitarian relief in the event of emergency assistance
  • Improve access to the health clinic
  • Provide access to primary school for children in Santa Rosita and assist access to secondary for the 11 communities
  • Provide access to the main road to facilitate sale by small farmers of their products.

Direct Outputs (over the life of the project):

  • One suspension foot bridge - 100% complete


Beneficiary profile: Marginalized Group - Ethnic, Cultural and Political Justification

The beneficiaries are a marginalized group in Honduran society and belong to the Tullupanes (San Francisco Tribe) indigenous group. Many of the children are not nationally registered. Government presence in the area is in the form of a police post and health clinic which is a 6 hour walk from many of the villages in Ocotal. There are no other NGOs working in Locomapa.


Profile of Beneficiaries
List of Beneficiary Communities (Village, Houses, Population)

  • Ayapit 45 234
  • Santa rosita 54 234
  • Agua Buena 34 134
  • Tierra Amarilla 45 279
  • La Balitas 56 300
  • Potrero 65 234
  • El Siriano 56 234
  • San Jeronimo 34 178
  • San Antonio 39 113
  • Machigua 40 113
  • Tierra Santa 31 134

TOTAL 409 2207

There will be 2,207 direct beneficiaries in year 1.

  • 49% are children - under the age of 18
  • 28% are children - under the age of 10
  • 52% are female and 48% are male

There will an additional 5,598 indirect beneficiaries in 18 neighboring communities who will use the bridge but are not dependant on it as an evacuation route.
All beneficiaries are either of the Tullupanes indigenous ethnic group living in small isolated villages or are of mixed Tullupanes/Ladino origin.  Beneficiaries are small scale farmers with hillside plots of maize, beans and sometimes coffee in the higher villages.

Schools-Children particularly in Santa Rosita village need to cross the river to attend primary school. Although secondary school attendance and access are almost non existent, for the small number that travel for further education this bridge will facilitate their education, especially during the rainy season.

The participating communities were chosen on the basis of ;

  • Current Access- Building a bridge is only carried out where the current access is not sufficient
  • Past history and future potential for flooding
  • Other assets available to community members- If the community has the capacity to install the system themselves GOAL prioritized other communities who do not have that capacity.
  • Location within the Organized and Prepared program area- For logistical and monitoring purposes there is an overlap with the wider Organized & Prepared program. The organized and prepared programs risk analysis approach facilitated the identification of the access issues in these communities.
  • Interest and willingness to actively participate and contribute to the program- for example willingness & likelihood of the community to contributing local materials, labor, local transport and time.

Benefits of the Bridge

  • Low maintenance
  • Uses a lot of locally available materials in construction
  • Materials for maintenance are available in the area
  • Uncomplicated
  • Highly suitable for the terrain/topography
  • Tested design

This project follows 6 previous bridge construction projects by GOAL Honduras in the Yoro so has benefitted from lessons learned.
 

Sustainability Summary

  • GOAL Honduras has experience of building 7 small suspension bridges in Yoro which have proven successful
  • GOAL intends to involved the municipal engineer in bridge training and maintenance
  • The bridge is uncomplicated & low maintenance
  • Local people were involved in identifying the best location for the bridge
  • Local people are now trained in maintenance
  • Local people have provided the labor and local materials that are available
  • There is minimum disruption of the riverbank and river bed to avoid any environmental impact

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

  • The GOAL Yoro Site Manager supervised and implemented the project
  • All labor was provided on a voluntary basis by the community
  • GOAL organized the purchase and transportation of material
  • Locally available materials such as sand and rock to mix with the concrete was made and treated as community contribution


GOAL USA would like to thank the generous donation from Longfellow Benefits that made the construction of this bridge possible.