Japanese Introduce Gunny Bag Road Maintenance Technology

Poor road network is one of the biggest challenges faced by developing countries today. The failure to connect village roads to urban centers brings delays in transportation of goods and services. To bridge this gap, the Japanese Embassy under its non-government organization ‘Community Road Empowerment (CORE)’ has introduced a road maintenance technology called (Do-nou technology) that can help rural communities maintain their own roads at a minimum cost and no machinery.

Kameda Kazuaki the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda, notes that this is a three-year Community Road Empowerment project intended to empower communities especially the youth to construct, repair and maintain their own roads using local materials and technology. The Japanese government has dedicated 666 million Uganda Shillings towards this project for a year with each road taking 25 million.

“This programme has been running in 27 countries including Kenya and Rwanda and was introduced in Uganda this year. More than 102 kilometers have been constructed, the beauty about it is that we use local materials to make strong roads,” he says.

The method

Do-nou is a Japanese word to mean use of gunny bags filled with murrum to construct roads. Do-nou Technology is a soil strengthening technique where gunny bags are filled properly with either sand, murrum, gravel and the tip of the bag tied with a string to bar the soil from pouring.

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Do-nou technology is ideal for rural road construction, maintenance and repair.

“We dig into the ground and create a wide ditch, pack marrum or sand in organic bags which we compact in the dug area, then cover the bags with marrum to create a fine touch for easy movement. This method works best in swampy and sloppy areas,” says Lawrence Luta one of the engineers.

He adds that the road can take three years without repair regardless of the weather condition and it can carry up to 25 tonnes without damage.

Currently the organizations has successfully constructed roads connecting through swamps in villages of Luguzi (170 meters) and Nakedde County (150 meters) in Namayuba Sub county, Wakiso district , two in Kamwokya and is going to the Eastern region.


Engaging the community

Mobilization of the community and human resource development is the key to any project success and without participation of the community work will not be successful. Kameda says unless people at grass root level are taught how to maintain and repair their own roads and with the cheapest technology, poor road network will remain a great a challenge even in years to come.

Yuka Iwamura, the project manager notes that the main aim of this project is not only to construct durable roads but also pass on the skills to youth. For every road constructed, a number of youths (25- 30) in that particular community is enrolled and are taught to construct, maintain and repair roads, these are trained by a team of engineers and taken through the practical skills of constructing their own roads.

Luta adds that anyone regardless of their educational background can participate as this is more of practical than mental work. Training takes a week (5 -7 days) as little expertise is involved.

Ephraim Segawa the Secretary of Education and Sports Namayuba Town Council says do-nou is a great technology that will help in construction of rural roads since the government allocates little money to the sub county, he says this is a great start to achieving good road networks.

He advises the youth who participated in other road projects to keep the skills alive, engage more in community work and to also take up the jobs advertised at the sub county and district levels in the same field.

Kazuaki advises the youth to use the skills to create employment and not waste their money buying alcohol and drinking. He says the reason they train communities is for people to learn to take care of their roads themselves.

Enock Sevume Nsereko, a youth participant in Luguzi says this will help reduce the unemployment levels in villages as they can work and make money.

“It will in a way reduce the high crime rates in villages as more youths are busy and less destructive, we will also try to advance and add on the certificate we have received to gain more expertise,” he adds.

Sevume requests the government to give them an opportunity to repair the local roads with the new technology since this will reduce on the expenditure in road construction and increase transportation of goods from hard to reach villages to towns.

Peter Mugayi, a farmer in Namayuba says this is a great opportunity as they can now transport their produce easily as compared to when they struggled with muddy roads in rainy seasons to take their goods to town. He believes this will reduce the poverty levels in villages as well.

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