Build Bridges for Health, Education & Hope - Nepal

by VillageTech Solutions (VTS)
Feb 27, 2014

Who Asked for that Bridge?

David and Haydi on tandem locomotive
David and Haydi on tandem locomotive

It took them nearly two days to reach us at our Nakhu river worksite. Their last few miles were by country bus, but most of the trip was on foot, on trails over ridge after ridge. Thirty miles from Kathmandu, the Bagmati river always forced a day-long detour whenever they needed to reach the nearest health post. When word reached them that someone was building a new kind of bridge, that was good news, so the community sent a delegation.

But there was no bridge. We were designing the WireRoad system--which we hoped would offer an inexpensive public 'mono-wire' carrier for rural transportation. The villagers pled their case but we explained that we had no idea how to adapt this technology to be a bridge.

When the villagers appeared a second time, it was clear that we needed to pay attention. A bridge was what they really needed, and the WireRoad should wait its turn.

For 18 months we induced every engineer we met to visit the Nakhu worksite, asking them for suggestions as we experimented. The villagers, by then accustomed to the multi-day round trip, said finally that the design was 'good enough' and asked to have it installed. They insisted that the experimental carriage, cut and welded dozens of times, be theirs--no need for a new copy. They knew it well.

The word of that first bridge spread like ripples from a pebble dropped in water. Soon other villagers in the region came to see it, then came to us asking for the same. 

In a few years the core technology was settled, and today 38 have been constructed. The market did speak.

We eventually returned to that original WireRoad project and completed a working model, but social unrest at the time prevented any significant infrastructure construction. Here is what that system looked like:

These 'locomotives' are being adapted for use in the banana farms of the world.

That's where this technology originated that now appears in Nepal's WireBridges.


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Organization Information

VillageTech Solutions (VTS)

Location: Menlo Park, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
David Sowerwine
Managing Director
Menlo Park, California United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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