Bridge over Troubled Water

The new bridge over River Kildish which connects nearly 10,000 people from across the district. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / 2017

Sofi Mohammed Alim, a 67-year old man from Yangi Qala district, Takhar Province, has seen a lot. He remembers the time, not long ago, when the bridge across the River Kildish was so dilapidated that villagers were afraid to cross.

“It was a thin wooden structure 30 meters long, and it touched the surface of the water. Yet it was the only way to connect with the rest of the district,” says Sofi.

“Walking on that bridge was like being a high-wire walker in the circus. I remember at least two women who lost their babies, because they were unable to cross the bridge to get help.”

Highlights:

  • People from more than 20 villages in Yangi Qala district of northern Takhar province had a hard time passing over a long and shaky bridge.
  • A Yangi Qala resident Sofi Mohammad Alim, 67, remembers two women who lost their babies because they were unable to cross the river.
  • A new bridge over River Kildish not only connects nearly 10,000 people from across the district with marketplaces, hospitals and schools but also strengthens community relations. 
  • According to Sofi, the new bridge is well built, which means cars, trucks, tractors and animals can all cross over it.

Today, Sofi is meeting with over a hundred villagers from more than 20 villages, in the Yangi Qala district centre, where they are socializing and resolving their problems through discussion. It is the first big gathering like this for many years, thanks to a new bridge built by UNDP and Afghanistan’s Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) with support from the people of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The new bridge is 30 meters in length and six-meters wide and connects 26 villages in the district with each other, and with the district center.

“We are very lucky now,” said Sofi. “The new bridge is well built, which means cars, trucks, tractors and animals can all cross over it.”

The new bridge over River Kildish during the sunsett. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / 2017

Most people in Yangi Qala district are farmers who produce cereals and fruits. With the new bridge, farmers can take their goods to market on time.

“The bridge has made it so much easier to deliver our fresh produce to market,” said Sofi. “In the past, we had to wait for the water to go down and our goods would perish before they arrived.”

Besides linking nearly 10,000 people with marketplaces, hospitals and schools, the Kildish bridge in Yangi Qala strengthens community relations.

“The Kildish bridge helps us connect with other people in our community,” said Sofi. “We pass through this bridge to attend ceremonies and strengthen our relationships.”

Social relations are like social security for rural people. They come to one another’s aid during natural disasters, and help their neighbours to collect yields and irrigate their lands.

Since 2014, UNDP’s Livelihood Improvement in Tajiki-Afghan Cross-border Areas (LITACA) project has built infrastructure that provides access for more than 900 farmers to markets, protects or irrigates nearly 15,000 hectares of agriculture land and connects 138 villages to district centers, health facilities, main roads and schools.

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