ABOUT: BIKES & DEVELOPMENT
Transport is a key element for sustainable development. Poor access to transportation services greatly hinders economic and social development and contributes to poverty. Affordable, appropriate and reliable transport can lead to a ‘virtuous cycle’, improving livelihood strategies of the rural poor. It also strengthens the exchange of information, social awareness and the promotion of social unity.
Transport is an important lever for communities’ empowerment, especially considering its potential for a multidimensional impact on improved health, education, income, participation and reduced vulnerability.
This is particularly true concerning the transport needs of rural women, who represent over 90 percent of Namibian’s HIV/AIDS and OVC home-based carers. Without appropriate means of transport, they walk long distances to help people living with the disease to live more comfortably in their homes, or to make sure a child is taken to the nearest clinic if necessary.
Lack of basic access and mobility is an important constraint in these women’s lives, perpetuating their disadvantaged position in their communities.
A bicycle's benefits
Numerous studies have demonstrated that bicycles are an appropriate technology for travelling short distances in developing countries, with the lowest operating costs of all available modes in sub-Saharan Africa.
A bicycle carries up to four times the weight, goes twice as far and travels twice as fast as a person walking. With bicycles, home-based carers can see more clients and deliver more supplies. Bicycles benefit the caregivers, people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Bicycle-related activities can also improve the communities’ access to income generation opportunities. There is a ready supply of second-hand bicycles being donated by organised groups in the West to developing countries. With appropriate mechanical skills, tools and spare parts, community members can refurbish the bicycles, sell them at affordable prices and become the main service provider for repair and maintenance. It ensures bicycle adoption in a community and offers high likelihood of ownership in the community level.