Isolation caused by lack of transportation infrastructure affects almost every facet of life for the rural poor. Without adequate transportation access, families cannot access schools, health care, employment, or local markets to sell and buy goods. The World Bank estimates that nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to an all-season road within two kilometers, illustrating the scope of the problem, and the challenge of addressing it at scale.

Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) is a non-profit organization that builds footbridges to connect rural communities facing isolation to road networks and critical destinations and services. B2P has constructed more than 350 footbridges in 20 countries, an infrastructure intervention that is cost-effective, durable, and relatively simple to scale. B2P’s field program in Rwanda started in 2012, and the organization established an MOU with the Rwandan Government in 2020 to scale up construction efforts. Over the next five years, B2P plans to construct several hundred footbridges in Rwanda. This rapid program growth presents an unprecedented opportunity for rigorous investigation of the effects of new footbridges on a number of key economic, health, agricultural and education outcomes for rural communities.

Our large scale impact evaluation is anchored on a stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial (RCT) implemented in 147 sites: 97 phased-in intervention sites and 50 long-term control sites. These sites are being monitored in four annual waves - a baseline round and three subsequent follow-up rounds. We are supplementing the RCT with three sub-studies. First, we are investigating the role of weather events and streamflow variability on temporal and spatial bridge use patterns among intervention sites. We will then find the relationship between the weather events, streamflow and bridge use from motion-activated cameras installed in intervention sites. Secondly, we are following  markets serving study sites to investigate the impact of the trailbridges on the market prices of key goods including crops, livestock and agricultural inputs. Lastly, we are following 30 villages that are more distant from the river crossings to determine the spatial extent of the trailbridge impacts. Our study will advance
knowledge by generating new data on the impact of rural infrastructure and providing the opportunity to explore a range of outcomes for future evaluation of infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries. These outcomes are listed below.

1. Household consumption, income, and asset holdings:

  • Prices and quantities of consumption, including distinction between own-produced food and market purchases

  • Wage labor inside and outside beneficiary communities

  • Household durable goods and assets, as well as formal and informal savings

2. Agricultural outcomes

  • Crops planted and harvested

  • Inputs (fertilizer, labor, capital) used in the production of crops

  • Farm assets, including animals, machinery, tools

  • Sales of agricultural products, including household sales to collectives or intermediaries

  • Location and size of subsistence and commercial farms

  • Travel time to sell produce

3. Migration

  • Temporary, seasonal, and permanent migration of household members

4. Education

  • Child enrollment in school

  • Days missed and attendance

5. Health