The children in Mashrap Sai village of Southern Kyrgyzstan have received a better chance of acquiring an education, safely thanks to the construction of a new bridge. WFP/Elizabeth Zalkind
In Mashrap Sai, a small village in southern Kyrgyzstan, reconstructing a bridge connecting its residents to the neighbouring village has positively influenced both trade and education. Daniyar Saryev, a father of five school-aged children, was able to safely send his children to school and also make a living.
BISHKEK – For years, parents like Daniyar Saryev have struggled to send their children to school regularly; the decayed rope bridge connecting Mashrap Sai to the neighbouring village hung across the river making the journey to and from school a risk many could not take. In the winter ice made crossing it nearly impossible and in spring the floods forced parents to order their smaller children to stay home from school for fear of fatal accidents.
“We do not have a school in our village and my kids have to make a two-kilometre journey every day to go to a school in a neighboring village,” says Daniyar. “They have to cross this bridge at least twice a day in order to go to school, and they usually have to cross it alone too.”
When possible, parents like Daniyar would assist the children on their way over the bridge, but the number of accidents had increased so dramatically that the community approached WFP for help.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Local Authorities, WFP supported the construction of a solid concrete bridge, providing safe and easy access to schools and larger markets. Through the food for assets scheme, WFP provided food rations to the most vulnerable families in the neighbourhood in return for volunteered manpower while the ministry supplied construction material and technical expertise. Some wealthy villagers also contributed 120,000 Soms (around US$2500) to fund the project.
“It was very a challenging project; it required a comprehensive assessment and engineering expertise before we started the construction work.” recalls Daniyar. “Knowing what a huge impact a properly built bridge would have on our lives motivated us to complete the work as soon as we could.”
Within two months, 40 volunteers from the poorest households in Mashrap Sai built the bridge reconnecting the village to the main road and new economic opportunities and they also reinforced the river bank with gabion nets, rocks and stones to prevent seasonal flooding. In return for their hard work, WFP provided volunteers with more than 4.5 metric tons of food supplies. On average, each participant brought home more than 100 km of fortified high quality wheat flour and vegetable oil; a significant earning for families with very limited opportunities to make a living.
Now, Danyar is able to pursue work in the village and his children have resumed regular attendance at school.