In partnership with the Ethiopian government, Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), a nonprofit dedicated to improving rural communities’ access to critical services by building footbridges, is working with Swiss development organization Helvetas to build 150 trail bridges and more than 230 miles of feeder trails. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided a $10 million, three-year grant to support the program.
According to the organizations, approximately 80% of Ethiopia’s population lives in rural areas, and they expect more than 1 million people to use the bridges. People who live in those rural towns must often traverse the rough terrain on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle, and their journeys frequently include crossing gorges or rivers.
In addition to constructing infrastructure, B2P and Helvetas want to contribute to the development of Ethiopia’s construction ecosystem by connecting materials, talent, and regional road authority. To connect rural areas to key services, B2P estimates that thousands of bridges and millions of kilometers of trail modifications are needed across Ethiopia.
According to Alissa Davis, B2P’s director of business development, the Helmsley trust has a history of funding work assisting vulnerable children in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it contacted B2P to learn more about the impact trail bridges could have on their other work building community resilience and holistic wellbeing for Ethiopian children. Similar bridge-building projects have been completed by Helvetas. It has partnered with the Ethiopian government to assist in the construction of 100 bridges.
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