Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Bridge Over River Moringa

Date line November 2014 - Central Region Ghana. 
Only egress over the Baako village creek prior to Moringa's
first original 2008 bridge construction project.

  The Moringa project's battle with the creek that separates the Moringa Community School of Trades (MCST) compound from the main road in Breman Baako has been raging since the beginning of our project in 2008.  All who have followed our project's progress over the years know that one of the earliest things we had to tackle was to build a bridge to our 12 acre Moringa owned land over the Baako village creek in order to connect us to the main road. The only way to traverse the creek before MCST was the two plank walking bridge above left. This primitive plank walking bridge would not do for a school and project of MCST's size. 
To overcome the creek obstacle, our Ghanaian project co-founder Abu, motivated and organized the community to build what we would call Moringa Bridge No.1 that served us well from 2009
through 2012.  This was a big undertaking early on in our project but a bridge to our compound and school grounds was essential to the health of our project.

Anyone that has any experience with hydrology (the movement of water) is aware of the difficulties in controlling its natural flow.  This Baako village creek is somewhat seasonal in nature and will nearly dry up in the dry season only to be a raging torrent of flood water at times in the rainy season.  Although our beloved Moringa Bridge No.1 survived three years of flooding and the effects of erosion, we finally lost that battle in 2012 with a total bridge collapse.   In the interim, many temporary measures were taken to repair the bridge but the forces of erosion had greatly compromised the concrete pylons to such a point that by late 2013 the damage was so catastrophic it was beyond repair.
Catastrophic collapse of Moringa Bridge No.1, November 2013.

   Despite such a blow, once again Abu and all our village volunteers demonstrated their devotion to the Moringa Project.  Just as this first bridge was constructed (with very modest funding) the community would band together to make a stronger, and hopefully more long lasting bridge to our compound with whatever funding that became available.

   Fast Forward to early 2014 when we were able to raise $6,800 to invest in large concrete culvert pipes that Abu transported from the capital in Accra to our bridge construction site in Breman Bakko.  Just as Moringa Bridge No.1 was built completely by hand and with all local volunteer hand labor, so would Moringa Bridge No. 2.   Please look at the images of our 2014 Bridge No. 2  below and imagine a similar project being built in America.  Such a project in the USA would likely be $600,000 not $6,800. 

Unpaid volunteer villagers show up to help hand dig a new channel for Baako Village Creek in early 2014. 

MorignaCommunity.Org completely exhausted our treasury in early 2014 to invest in the raw materials
needed to create Moringa Bridge No. 2 seen under construction above and below.   
Our new Moringa Bridge No 2 as it nears completion late February 2014
Functioning new Moringa Bridge No.2 as of May 2014

And so it was going into May of 2014 our new and mighty bridge (see photo at left) stood poised to serve the community and our compound and school grounds of the Moringa Commuinity School of Trades.

Or would it?  Remember the forces of water in heavy flood.  Moringa Bridge No.2 was designed and built very well and very strong.  But it was about to prove just how strong in late May of this year when a violent and torrential rain storm swept the Central Region, Ghana.  The morning after the flood revealed a complete roadway washout on the western side of Moringa Bridge No.2.  The roadway was gone but, halleluiah, the bridge was still in tact!  Note in the aftermath image below that a temporary boardwalk was built quickly and in time for the opening of the fall semester of the Moringa Community School of Trades.  All have seen this dedication of effort throughout the Moringa project's life.  Moringa has a motto similar to that of the US Marine Corp.  "We adapt, we adjust, we overcome."
Moringa Bridge No.2 - June 2014 after flood.

We simply cannot survive without a road to our school. Our future plans to prevent a re-occurrence of the roadway washing out in the annual flood cycle includes constructing a sister concrete culvert pipe bridge system to convey even larger amounts of flood water. We know our existing Moringa Bridge No.2 system is solid and will stand when put to the test.  Now we must ensure the roadway will have ample enough drainage needed to shed the pressure of flood water.  We just need another $6,800 to get this restoration done.  The labor, as always, is supplied by the sweat equity of the village community.  The cement and construction materials, however, are not easily available in Ghana and are more expansive than here in America.

We are confident our planned remediation will work given the experience with our first culvert style bridge.  With your help, we can succeed in making the best Moringa Bridge to date.  You can even help suggest a name for the new modified bridge.  Perhaps Moringa Bridge No. 2.0 ?

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