Switzerland helps Nepal build 10,000 bridges

Nepal has completed its 10,000th trail bridge with technical know-how and support from Switzerland. Two-thirds of the local population benefit from these vital transport routes. The construction of this 10,000th bridge is a fitting conclusion to Switzerland's involvement in this field, which Nepal will now continue under its own steam.

Schoolchildren on a trail bridge.

School shortcut: After the construction of a new suspension bridge, an average of 16 percent more children go to school. © SDC / Dinesh Pandey

Switzerland has been helping Nepal to build trail bridges since the 1960s. The bridges improve access to services for people living in remote areas. Over the years, Switzerland's approach has changed considerably – from ad-hoc support by Swiss engineers to a long-term construction project to a participatory process enabling local communities to build the bridges on their own.

Locals building for their communities

After Nepal's federal constitution was introduced in 2015, structures and responsibilities were correspondingly realigned. This included the strengthening of local authorities, who are in charge of building the country's trail bridges. The newly-created provinces are responsible for the material management and technical support. Given that Nepal now has the necessary resources and know-how to continue the work on its own, in 2024 Switzerland will end its involvement in the country's bridge construction.

Up to 19 million beneficiaries

The 10,000 bridges completed with Swiss support cut the average journey by 2.5 hours – a long-term positive impact on the living conditions of around 19 million people. Statistics show that after a new bridge has been built, on average 16% more children walk to school and health centre consultations increase by 26%. In addition, one in every five bridges becomes a new hub attracting traders, shopkeepers, food stalls and repair shops.

Aktuelles Portraitbild des Schweizer Ingenieurs Hans Aschmann.
Engineer Hans Aschmann led the first Swiss-backed construction of a suspension bridge in Nepal in 1960–61. In this interview, he recalls that pioneering mission.
Women working on the construction of the Ghurswaghat bridge in Kanchanpur.
Swiss development cooperation has been helping Nepal build trail bridges since 1960. A look back at this successful partnership.
Portrait of Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, The World Bank
The World Bank also supported the expansion of the trail bridge network in Nepal. Faris Hadad-Zervos, Country Director for Nepal, takes stock.
Representatives of the Swiss Embassy and the Nepalese government at the inauguration of the Marin Khola Bridge on 9 November in Bagmati Province.
The 10,000th suspension bridge built in Nepal with Swiss participation is called "Marin-Khola". The 283 metre long bridge has changed the lives of people on both sides of the Marin River. These are their stories.
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