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World Bicycle Relief, Zambia

Bicycles to improve the livelihoods of rural communities

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Bicycles to improve the livelihoods of rural communities

Over 70% of Africa’s rural population lacks access to reliable roads and affordable transportation. Zambia is no exception to this, and due to the limited financial resources of many rural households, transport expenses are not affordable for the majority.

Walking is therefore the only option for many rural Zambians, a reality that limits their access to essential services such as healthcare and education, as well as access to markets and livelihood opportunities. Developing safe and affordable mobility solutions is therefore key to unlocking the economic potential and improving the quality of life of remote communities in Zambia.

The Puma Energy Foundation is partering with World Bicycle Relief (WBR), a global organisation specialised in rural mobility and transport, to provide bicycles specifically designed to meet the needs of low-income populations in rugged terrain.

Our collaboration focuses on the Mumbwa district in the Central Province of Zambia, where 77% of the local population lives in poverty. WBR will apply its “Mobilized Communities” approach in Mumbwa and implement a holistic plan to improve the livelihoods of circa 2,900 people through the distribution and maintenance of 720 bicycles over three years (2021-2023).

Based on 15 years of programme learnings and participant feedback, the Mobilized Communities approach has demonstrated the high impact of bicycles in improving people’s access to healthcare, education, and income-generation opportunities. 

In Mumbwa, with markets located 20-48km away, the use of bicycles will make a real difference for the district’s farmers, allowing them to increase their access to a wider network of clients and gain time in transporting their produce. Access to education and healthcare is also expected to improve, as families will be able to rely on bicycles as a cost-effective alternative to other costly transport options. 

WBR will set up Bicycle Supervisory Committees (BSCs), composed of local community members, who will help to identify potential beneficiaries and provide oversight to ensure the sustainability of bicycle donations. To this end, WBR will also train field-based mechanics to maintain and repair the bicycles, and help the Committees to manage a local spare parts inventory so that quality spares are available when needed.

The Mobilized Communities approach is designed to provide a sustainable and efficient transport solution to rural populations, who are empowered to take ownership of their bicycles and ride towards a better future.

2021 Key Achievements

In 2021, World Bicycle Relief received valuable input from community members across the district (such as local leaders, farmers, health workers, communitybased organisations) enabling it to tailor the programme to local conditions and cultural considerations.

BSCs helped select the most impactful placement of bicycles in the community. Residents of Mumbwa typically walk or pay high fees for mototaxis or ox carts to reach markets, schools and health services. The mobility assessment indicated that small-scale farmers would benefit most from lower transportation costs and improved access to markets and services, leading to increased productivity short-term, with potential for a growth in household income long-term.

Last year's intervention resulted in the distribution of  1,300 bicycles to community members, out of which 78% are women.  

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