The collapse of a 50-year-old bridge over the Khingob River in Tajikistan. Mercy Corps is working with local communities on a solution to reconnect isolated villages to the rest of the country. Photo: Mercy Corps Tajikistan
On July 18, a 50-year-old suspension bridge over the Khingob River in Tajikistan collapsed when a truck carrying food and other supplies was crossing. The driver and three passengers were able to escape the truck with only minor injuries, but the bridge was destroyed.
More than 2,500 people on the south side of this wide, fast-flowing river are now cut off from the rest of Tajikistan. To the south, they are surrounded by high mountains. The only way to cross the river is a narrow footbridge that requires a five-mile journey on foot through dense vegetation along the steep slopes of the river valley.
The immediate economic and health impact on the nine isolated villages is severe. Dozens of shops have now run out of supplies, according to the head of the jamoat (municipality). Food, fuel, medicine and other supplies can only reach this region by foot or pack animal. Any medical situation that cannot be handled by the small hospital in the jamoat center requires evacuation by the aforementioned five-mile journey and then a three-hour drive to the hospital in the district center of Tavildara.
Pregnant women with complications and others requiring specialized medical care face a very dangerous situation. During a Mercy Corps assessment, an elderly woman was seen reaching the footbridge after walking for two days to reach it.