The main road that connects Mahadaga with neighboring towns faces regular beating during rainy season, often resulting in treacherous travel conditions. While the government has aided in previous repair efforts, there has been no sign of official intervention for the past few years. In the spring of 2016, ODD began facilitating community road repair.
Our first work days took place in May before rainy season. Several hundred people were involved, including the chief of Mahadaga and the chief of Nampounsiga, who came out to see the completion of the project. The intended repairs were successfully carried out, and we were blessed to take part in the experience! Sadly, the torrential August downpours have since had their way, eroding most of our work.
At one neighboring town, Nampounkori, a concrete spillway was hit especially hard as rains compounded the effects of runoff water from the cliffs. Constant erosion of the surrounding road rendered the bridge virtually impassable, leaving travellers with the decision to turn back or risk damaging their moto, bicycle, donkey cart, etc. Our own truck did not escape damage along this road as we hauled it to and from Ouagadougou. We knew something needed to be done before the path washed away entirely or caused more significant damage.
On August 23rd, ODD staff arrived at the site around 7:30 AM to begin road repairs on both sides of the spillway. Unfortunately, a rainstorm claimed the morning before we could make much progress. When rainy season is in full swing, even a short downpour can turn trickling streams into forcible currents. The pictures below show the entrance to the spillway at Nampounkori shortly after the storm.
Thankfully, we had a great community turnout when the rain ended and work restarted around 3:00. Dozens of people from Nampounkori came out to help! With all hands on deck, we divided up tasks and began work on both ends of the spillway. Since one side was particularly damaged, we focused most efforts there. Our goal was to fill in craters, reinforce the road’s edge, and raise the ground level to ensure the concrete spillway was the lowest point for drainage.
The first step was to build a retaining wall that would be less susceptible to erosion than loose dirt. To do this, we doubled up grain sacks and filled them with soil from the surrounding area. After sewing them shut, we stacked them in a line along the road’s edge leading up to the spillway. We then added another row of sacks aside the first and a second layer atop this base, creating a sturdy berm above water level.
To keep rain water from flowing directly across the road during storms, we dug a trench parallel to the road on the same side of the sack berm. Where the berm ended, the trench began — continuing about ten feet past the spillway.
On the other side of the road (same side of the spillway), storm water rushing over the edge had formed craters that ranged from 3 to 8 feet deep. We used dirt from the resulting peninsulas to fill more sacks and lay them along the road’s intended border. After the border was established, we filled in the road space with rocks and loose dirt. Once a layer was level, another line of sacks was laid on the first, overlapping by about 10 inches. Stepping up sacks in this way and filling the remaining space with soil and rocks, we continued until the new road was level with the old one.
Once finished, we patched areas where uneven rock arrangements created dips in the road. To alert drivers of the road’s edge and prevent damage to the sacks, we inserted Neem branches every few feet along either side of the road.
The complete process took two days of work, dozens of workers, and over 100 sacks of soil. We were blessed to work with the people of Nampounkori and to accomplish a task for the good of the whole community. Please pray that the repairs will hold and provide a lasting solution for travellers along the route. Meanwhile, the other side of the bridge is still in need of repair, as are other sections of the road. We need prayers for continued safety and resilience as repair efforts continue.
There is never a shortage of adventure during rainy season!