ActionAid-funded Concrete Bridge Eases Lives of Remote Northern Village

This bridge has helped people in Ban Thang village of Ha Giang province no longer have to worry about floods and landslides during rainy and stormy seasons.
March 11, 2024 | 09:34

Solid and safe are what people in Ban Thang village (Tung Vai commune, Quan Ba district, Ha Giang province) said about the concrete bridge to avoid rain and floods built by ActionAid Vietnam in 2022.

Reduce anxiety

Crossing winding, dangerous roads, on a foggy morning in early March, we arrived at Ban Thang village. The winding stream separates the village from other villages in the district, forcing us to cross a bridge to enter the village. The reinforced concrete bridge is 2.5m wide and 9m long, with sturdy railings on both sides for people to travel conveniently.

ActionAid-Funded Concrete Bridge Helps Local Villagers
The concrete bridge leading to Ban Thang village. Photo: Mai Anh

While leading us into the village, Then Thi Cham, a Nung ethnic living in Ban Thang village, told Thoi Dai newspaper's reporter that previously, the old bridge in the village was built in 2012 from two L-shaped iron beams, which were removed from the broken bridge on Highway 4C. Due to poor quality, the bridge quickly deteriorated. The iron bars were rusty and the two bridge piers made from dry stone have gradually weakened over the years. There are no barriers on both sides of the bridge, which is especially dangerous for children and the elderly.

“During the rainy season, flood waters rise and flow rapidly, submerging the bridge, and completely cutting off travel routes for people in the village. For every 3-day-rain, we would be completely isolated for 2 days. When the water gradually recedes, the bridge across the stream is just two precarious iron bars. Everyone is afraid, but if they don't go through, all daily activities will have to halt. Every time my whole family hears the weather forecast is about rain and floods, we're extremely anxious," Cham said.

Not only Cham's family but most people in Ban Thang village share this concern.

Realizing the difficulties of local people, in February 2021, ActionAid Vietnam supported more than VND 300 million (USD 12.160) to buy materials and more than 200 people contributed to building a concrete bridge across the stream. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will not be until August 2022 that the project will officially start construction. After more than 2 months of construction, the bridge was completed and put into use.

Since the new bridge, everyone in the village has been happy and excited. Lu Chieu Doan, a resident of Ban Thang village, said that the sturdy concrete bridge helps him feel more comfortable and confident when crossing. He can ride a motorbike and carry heavy furniture across the bridge without having to worry.

“Thanks to this concrete bridge, we are no longer afraid of being isolated every rainy season. Living activities, exchanges, trading...take place normally. My children can still go to school on rainy days. I hope more bridges will be built to make travel easier for people in the village," Doan shared.

ActionAid-Funded Concrete Bridge Helps Local Villagers
Since the concrete bridge was built, people in the village can travel conveniently, safely and no longer have to worry about being isolated during the rainy season. Photo: Mai Anh

Community-based model

According to Hoang Phuong Thao, Chief Representative of ActionAid Vietnam, the concrete bridge model is one of the community-based natural disaster prevention models deployed by ActionAid in Quan Ba district.

After being put into use, the bridge helped more than 130 children in Ban Thang village go to school safely, creating conditions for them to study with peace of mind. At the same time, it helps local people access public services more easily, diversify job opportunities, and minimize security challenges caused by natural disasters.

The community-based disaster prevention model focuses on the people in the community being proactive and actively participating in identifying, analyzing natural disaster risks, planning, implementing, and following up. Monitor and evaluate activities. From there, reducing vulnerability and enhancing the community's ability to respond and adapt to the impacts of natural disasters.

“In each village, there are different difficulties and the needs of the people are also different. Therefore, to ensure the most practical and appropriate benefits for each area, in the coming time, ActionAid will continue to replicate the approach, starting by surveying people's opinions, and working with locals to determine the best priorities and solutions, thereby supporting them to realize these solution models," Thao shared.

Do Quang Dung, vice chairman of the People's Committee of Quan Ba district, said that Quan Ba district is one of the administrative units with difficult terrain, easily leading to landslides, flash floods, and rain. Moreover, strong winds and tornadoes cause heavy damage to people's lives and properties.

With the companionship of ActionAid Vietnam and the Aid for Social Protection Program Foundation Vietnam (AFV), from 2008 to the present, many community-based natural disaster prevention models have been implemented, such as the solar lighting model; training on natural disaster risk assessment with community participation; natural disaster prevention exercises in communities and schools. More than 40,000 local people participated and benefited. The total supported budget is up to VND 31.7 billion (USD 1.2 million).

Dung hopes that in the next stage, Quan Ba district will continue to receive support from ActionAid Vietnam and AFV in equipping people, especially young people, with knowledge on natural disaster risk mitigation, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, renewable energy solutions, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. He also voices his wish that more new models will be deployed to improve local lives.

According to the representative of the People's Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM) - the specialized and functional body for relations with foreign non-governmental organizations and mobilizing aid, under the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations, during more than 30 years of operation in Vietnam, ActionAid has made many contributions to hunger eradication, poverty reduction, and development support.

Since 2002, ActionAid has begun implementing support programs in Ha Giang province, which have been highly evaluated by the locality, contributing to improving the material and spiritual life of the people. In particular, the concrete flood-resistant bridge model in Ban Thang village was built to suit local needs, creating conditions for children to go to school safely. In particular, the implementation of the community-based project model contributes to enhancing the responsibility of people and local authorities in protecting the environment and minimizing the causes of climate change.

In 2023, ActionAid becomes the 27th member and the 23rd international member of the Partnership for Disaster Risk Reduction which was established under Decision No. 3922/QD-BNN-TCCB dated October 11, 2019, of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, with members including more than 20 international organizations Health and 4 ministries.

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