Connecting Uganda and Kenya: A story of a divided people coming together after conflict

I have recently been overwhelmed by migraines, but I was finally able to rejoin Sylvia so we could continue performing technical assessments and decide where to place our next eight cable bridges. While Sylvia laid out the center line and determined elevations and distances of points along the center line, I had the honor of talking with the community. I explained who we were and what we were doing, but most of all I listened to the community as they told me their story.

When Kenya and Uganda were colonized, arbitrary boarders were created that broke up tribes. For one such area, Bukwo (Uganda) and West Pokot (Kenya), the fertile portion of the land was locked away in Uganda and Kenya was left with a more arid terrain. In recent years, the area was torn apart by conflict. People were killed in their homes, while they slept and their cattle stolen. Some families were even burned alive in their homes. Many people left their ancestral homes to establish themselves somewhere safer.

A few years ago the governments of Kenya and Uganda signed a peace agreement, brought in armed guards, and created strict laws regarding cattle raids. After these steps, people now feel much safer and say they can finally sleep through the night. People are returning to their homes and the population is rapidly growing.

To encourage peace for future generations the Kenyan government is building a school for both Ugandans and Kenyans. The school will be completely free. They will cover tuition, school supplies, uniforms, and boarding for students who need it.

A bridge at this site would give Ugandan children yearlong access to the new Kenyan school. The bridge would also provide Kenyans and Ugandans access to health centers and markets.

The river used to have a bridge, but it was swept away in a storm. Even before the timber bridge was swept away it was very dangerous, and many people were hurt. Now people forge the river on foot, and during flash floods people and livestock are swept away. Many are injured or lose their life.  A bridge, one that would stand the test of time,  could help Kenyans and Ugandans rejoin their neighbors. Bridges to Prosperity plans to erect a cable bridge at the site next financial year. This kind of bridge is perfect for such a site as it can withstand flash-floods and requires very little maintenance for 40 years. Bridges to Prosperity is working with the Ugandan National Roads Authority and the African Development Bank as part of a larger project to improve vehicular and pedestrian feeder roads/bridges in the creation of a major trade rout between the Kenyan border and the Ugandan marketplace.

Note: Opinions are my own and not the views of Bridges to Prosperity.

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