Update December 2023

We have made even better progress than we dared hope and have an almost-complete bridge deck in place now.  It has been a tough week for everyone, with 35ºC daytime temperatures, not a lot cooler at night.  Thank goodness the river was there to cool off in at the end of the day, with no crocodiles in sight.  By Friday 1 December, though, the river was a raging torrent after the storm so the river was impassable.

The access stairways on both sides are complete, the cables strung across the river and tensioned, and the deck undersides painted as well.  The deck is almost completed – there remains a small adjustment gap to fit, but we have been able to walk across the river on the deck, which is just as well since the river is now impassable!  The bridge looks wonderful in that very rural setting.

God’s miraculous hand has been in this construction work on several occasions.  Twice over the last 3 weeks, just when we thought things would have to stop because of lack of village labour, the village has turned out in force that very day to help.  And then the rains, which everyone expected to start early (in November) this year have held off until just 2 days ago, the first time we could manage the work without having to pass through the river. The final deck piece and deck fencing  will be fitted soon and the villagers will be completing the final coat of paint after the construction is finished.

Update July 2023

Preparations are underway for the construction of the footbridge across the Little Ruaha River linking Mafuluto and Luganga villages. This is a brief update on progress to date.

  • Over the last few months we have been looking at sourcing the steelwork materials and suitable fabrication yards in Tanzania, but have decided to use Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA) to procure and fabricate the steelwork in Kenya as they can source all the requisite materials and have experience of the fabrication. We have found it will be cheaper for them to do all that and then for us to freight it to Tanzania, including any import charges, rather than for EI to purchase the materials and get it fabricated here in Tanzania. At the end of June BtGA were instructed to proceed with the fabrication.
  • Now that Kenyan fabrication has been decided, EI has started the process to request duty-free import of the materials to Tanzania, although the outcome of this is not guaranteed. The economic purchase of steelwork from Kenya is not dependent on obtaining duty-free importation, but it will be a bonus if it is possible.
  • Prior to any work on site, it is necessary for a Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed between EI, the villages and the Diocese of Ruaha. This will set out the responsibilities of each party during construction, and including the bridge operation and maintenance once it is completed. At a meeting with the leaders of Mafuluto and Luganga, the two villages on either side of the river, the likely MOU requirements were discussed and plans made for the appropriate village agreements to be made. Both leaderships are very happy that things are moving forward with planned construction on site towards the end of the year.
  • Access to the bridge site for delivery of materials has been surveyed and found that access for trucks is best made on the Mafuluto side only. Materials will have to be portaged across the river for the work on the Luganga side. This is a key reason why the planned construction time has to be towards the end of the dry season, when wading across the river will not present any problems.
  • During a brief visit to Iringa this month Andy Sharpe visited the footbridge site and villages and made plans with the EI Iringa team for necessary administration agreements and for the mobilisation and preparation for foundations construction in mid October. At that time he plans to return to oversee the construction and bridge installation along with a BtGA engineer from Kenya.

The proposed timetable for construction is:

Start of October 2023 – Mobilise to site and commence delivery of construction materials.
Mid October 2023 – Set out foundations, excavate and cast concrete.
Mid November 2023 – String cables, launch decking and install access stairways.
End November 2023 – Complete construction, tidy site and handover.

Mafuluto Footbridge information

The Ruaha River is a great blessing for the people of Iringa region, but it can be lethal if you need to cross it without a bridge in the rainy season!

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Little Ruaha River in the dry season

The same place in the rainy season

Mafuluto is a remote village 70km from Iringa and lies on one bank of the river. Luganga, on the other side, has better services and good connections to Iringa town. So Mafuluto villagers often need to wade through the river to reach Luganga and Iringa. The village leadership of Mafuluto has asked Emmanuel International for help in building a footbridge across the river.

The alternative to wading through the river is a 7hr trek to go round via the nearest river bridge.

Mafuluto village chairman Ekilia A. Manyesela says that “many times this river has been an obstacle preventing people from Mafuluto to trade and access services in nearby Luganga. It has been many times that the people of Luganga and Mafuluto have died by drowning or being caught by crocodiles and hippos when they try to cross to the other side of the river. They also need to cross over to attend family and social events which are very important in their culture.”

Emmanuel International in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha hope to complete building a footbridge across the river before the December 2023 start of the rainy season. The village will contribute what they can with labour and local materials, but we need to find £26,400 in total to fund the construction. Already we have raised £12,500, so we are looking for a further £13,900. If you know of anyone who would like to contribute funds to making this footbridge a reality then please put them in touch with us, or donate on the secure link below.

More information, if you are interested....

Little Ruaha River

The perennial Little Ruaha river is a tributary of the Great Ruaha river in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Flows vary greatly through the seasons of the year. Dry season flow can reduce to 2m3/s or less but peak wet season flow can reach 80m3/s. The proposed bridge location is at Lat S 7.531oo, Long E 35.4680o.

The Need

Mafuluto and Luganga villages desperately need the bridge because in the last 10 years

  • 7 people have been killed by crocodiles and hippos
  • 10 people have died in the water and were not found
  • 3 people have been caught by crocodiles and rescued but permanently disabled
  • More than 50 people have been rescued from canoe accidents

Footbridge Design

Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA), based in Kenya, are providing the technical expertise supporting EI for the duration of the project.
A schematic of the bridge design is shown below.

Example of suspended bridge in Kenya

Footbridge in Mafuluto, Tanzania