Tuin river crossings

How Practical Action are improving an indigenous river crossing technology

In places where there are no means of crossing rivers and streams, countless people are losing their lives or injuring themselves attempting to cross. People either have to swim or use grass rope with a wooden pulley or simple boats to cross the rivers. Wire bridges (Tuin) use a single wire rope, pulley and a simple wooden trolley. To cross rivers using such Tuins is extremely dangerous.

In some places construction of bridges is not possible but an alternative means of transportation like the river crossing Tuin technology can provide a sustainable solution to the isolated people of rural and mountainous regions. Therefore Practical Action have found a cost effective and improved design in order to make the Tuin system far safer.

Making Tuins safer

Some changes to make the Tuin safer were to develop and add seats, and install sidebars. Practical Action further developed a new pulley system that makes the pulling of the trolley easier and eliminates the risk of trapping fingers in the mechanism. The pulley and bearing system also reduces friction and lessens the effort required to cross the river. The efficiency has been doubled.

Even though, these enhanced Tuins are safer and easier than traditional ones during operation, continuous improvement is necessary from Tuin designers and users for safety measures. On the contrary, the enhanced Tuin is still not feasible for more than 100 meters as it requires more strength to pull the Tuin from either side of the river banks.

Considering the technical setbacks of the Tuins and the user's concerns Practical Actions’ technicians have now improved the design by adding sag control cable and hauling cable to the pulley system. This addition of the sag control cable has made the labour of pulling the Tuin easier from both sides of the river bank even if the Tuin is longer than 100 meters.

Suk Bhadur Magar, from Nepal

‘We used to have to use a wooden board made from a big tree trunk, but we couldn’t use this for all seasons [because the river got too high and fierce]. Two accidents happened and three people were killed, one was a local teacher and the others were local residents. Between 1991 and 1992 someone was taken ill and had to be taken to a health post [on the other side of the river] – they had an accident on the way on a boat, but they both survived, he managed to rescue his wife as well.’

‘There is another option; we can walk for a couple of hours to the suspension bridge. Most houses are above the ridge – there are 63 houses there and another 25 houses on the other side. Both sides of the river saved for this tuin. We use it to cross the river to go to market in Naranrat’.

When asked how the improved Tuin has made their lives better, Suk answered; ‘We cultivated vegetables and fruit but we were not able to sell them. Now the middle man can now come and buy them, it’s very easy. We then have more money to send on. Vegetables, pulses, goat – these are now very easy to sell – we had to carry them for 2 hours before. It’s very good for selling fruit and we can sell the local wine as well.’

Safer river crossings in Nepal

"I'd read about tuins before I went to Nepal they sounded like a brilliant idea, so I jumped at the chance of having a go on one. In the dramatic surroundings I immediately saw the benefits they can bring, helping communities cross potential dangerous mountain rivers. I wasnt prepared for the blisters though unlike the tuin, my office worker hands werent quite up to the job!" - Stephen Harvey, Practical Action UK

There are more than 6,000 rivers and streams in Nepal leaving many places without any means of crossing and countless people losing their lives or injuring themselves. Practical Action are working hard to introduce this improved technology to more communities. However without your help, this is not a possibility. To provide access to such isolated and excluded villages, a 100 meter long Tuin can be constructed with a total cost of NRs 750,000 (about US $11,000).

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