During periods of seasonal flooding, isolated rural communities are often cut off from markets and other income-generating opportunities, as well as from health and education facilities. In Rwanda, the vast majority of lower income people live in rural areas with challenging, mountainous terrain. In a country where agriculture accounts for one third of overall GDP and 66 percent of total employment, a lack of reliable access to markets and jobs inhibits growth.
To address this challenge, the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and partner Bridges to Prosperity are building and evaluating footbridges that aim to eliminate rivers as barriers to road networks and critical destinations. Implementing footbridges costs a fraction of what it does to build and maintain vehicle bridges, and evidence shows they can reduce poverty and increase household income. With support from Development Innovation Ventures and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, CU and their partners at Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, and expert staff in Rwanda are conducting a large-scale randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impacts of a nationwide footbridge-building campaign in Rwanda. The program is delivering 200 bridges to rural populations hampered by lack of access to markets, schools, and services.