Mobility may be something that citizens of developed countries take for granted.
Yet for the 40-60% of people in developing countries who live more than 8km from a health care facility, or for poor urban dwellers who must spend up to five hours daily commuting in order to make a living – safe, clean, and affordable transport is a necessity” (Katherine Sierra, Vice President, Sustainable Development, The World Bank)
In most African rural communities, young women are responsible for collecting water and firewood. Head loading is very common. This puts strain on the neck, compressing the spine, often causing long term damage. A bicycle can carry heavy goods instead of head loading, preventing long term ailments and promoting good health. They are also invaluable for travelling health workers coping with the AIDS epidemic.
Mpatisha, (image below) is 20 years old and lives in rural Zambia. She is the eldest of 6 children and has a one-year old child herself.
Every day, she leaves home at 5.30am with her baby and walks to collect water from the only available water source, a stream. The round-trip journey takes 2.5 hours, and as soon as she reaches home, she goes straight back again for more water. By 10.30am she has already spent 5 hours travelling for water. She returns for one more round trip in the late afternoon.
Mpatisha is lucky – in that she has access to a bike – enabling her to carry two 20 litre containers at a time. Although the load is heavy to push on the bike in the heat, without it she would have to carry one 20 litre container on her head, and make twice as many trips to the stream, or another child (usually a girl) would also have to fetch water.
Water from the stream itself is very unsafe for drinking – it is shared by humans and animals. This year, with the support from the income from our bikes that we send to our partners, Kaloko Trust will be putting in a borehole to bring water to the communities using the stream.