THEY BUILD BRIDGES.
When the villagers take things in hand, development takes place fast. If there is no bridge and the children cannot go to school? People meet, put together the resources they may gather: wealthier people pay a contribution, others provide free labor.
Mekong Plus invests usually in people rather than in brick and mortar! But the villagers insisted and their demand was urgent: they offered to cover 2 / 3-3 / 4 of the costs!
Looking back, the villagers were right! Mekong Plus has helped build 255 bridges and 165 km of concrete paths.
Typically the Mekong Plus contribution to a small bridge is 600 Euros; once constructed we observe 500-1000 motorcycles use them every day. Indeed a good investment for the village!
In the Mekong delta poor households often have no direct access to the road to schools, clinics, markets etc. They must use a boat or a “monkey bridge”. This prevents small children to attend school in time, they waste 2-3 years till they can let cross the rivers on their own.
The farmers sell their produce at a low price to merchants passing on boat, they cannot bargain. But they buy everything at a higher price, as they cannot easily go to the market. They are cheated twice!
Together we build bridges. The villagers mobilize all they have and cover 2/3 of the costs. Mekong Plus just 1/3.
As soon as there is a bridge then incomes increase by 50%, children go to school safely…