The San Pablo de Amali Community

The goal of this project is to replace a 15-foot-long vehicular bridge that was once a vital resource for the San Pablo de Amali community in Bolívar, Ecuador. The former bridge was poorly constructed, and therefore washed out in a high flow incident in February 2017. The community was denied assistance from the local government, and ever since, San Pablo de Amali has restricted access to health centers, marketplaces, and secondary schools. They have resorted to building temporary crossings that are only capable of withstanding the mild, dry season conditions. In each rainy season between January and April, however, these temporary solutions wash away and the community is left stranded in hazardous conditions. Furthermore, the scope of this project is not limited to San Pablo de Amali, for the bridge is a resource used by all of Chillanes county. The crossing is a component of the primary route in the county for travel from the mountainous region of Ecuador to the coast. Hence, many bus routes travelling on this road are diverted for a large portion of the year, further limiting the community’s access to numerous resources.

The community leadership council agreed that this vehicular bridge is San Pablo de Amali’s primary need. Without a durable bridge, the community is stranded for months in hazardous conditions, isolated from the medical, economic, and educational resources needed to maintain a high quality of life. Therefore, the Johns Hopkins Chapter of Engineers Without Borders has partnered with San Pablo de Amali in an effort to provide a durable bridge that can sustain the harsh rainy seasons for years to come.


After collaborating with local engineers and government leaders, the chapter decided that a reinforced concrete, cast-in-place beam bridge at the site of the former bridge is the most appropriate and cost-efficient solution. The chapter is still performing a cost-analysis review to determine an appropriate bridge-width to satisfy the community’s most pressing needs.


The project is located in San Pablo de Amali, a subtropical farming community near the western side of the Andes mountains. San Pablo de Amali is within the Chillanes county of Ecuador and the Bolívar Province.

Current Situation

In May 2019, the JHU Ecuador Project travel team travelled to San Pablo de Amali for an initial assessment trip. The trip was a success in facilitating partnerships with various project beneficiaries. The travel team met several times with the community and the community leadership council to establish mutual needs and expectations throughout the project. The team also formed partnerships with the parroquial, municipal, and provincial levels of government in Ecuador, in which verbal agreements were made to provide materials, equipment, and labor. These commitments from local leaders will contribute immensely to reducing project cost. Moreover, the travel team examined the bridge site and other nearby bridges with local engineers to learn about building practices in Ecuador. 

After a successful trip, the Ecuador Project team is working to maintain the partnerships formed while in country, devise preliminary designs, and raise the necessary funding to implement such an involved, large-scale project. Moving forward, the team hopes to travel again in the summer of 2020 to present preliminary designs to the community and finalize formal agreements with project partners.

Special Thanks

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