Millions of Africans are unable to reach jobs, schools, and health care because they cannot afford basic transportation. The Access Africa Project has allowed thousands of Africans the opportunity to get a better job, obtain a good education, and arrive at a health clinic in time.
Currently ITDP is working with Qhubeka, a nonprofit organization in South Africa, to provide bikes for its ‘Trees for Bikes’ project, which addresses the dual problems of deforestation and lack of access to transport in Africa. Through this unique program, children and adolescents in South Africa learn how to grow trees, and in exchange for their trees they earn bikes. The program is jointly operated by Qhubeka and Wildlands Conservation Trust. ITDP has also supported BEN Namibia on providing bikes to health care workers.
Access Africa began as a partnership between ITDP, global bicycle industry leaders like TREK®, and a network of independent African bicycle dealers to make high quality, fashionable, utilitarian bicycles affordable to the African consumer. It linked small businesses to the international suppliers and provided over 10,000 to new consumers in those countries.
ITDP distributed bicycles free of charge to an array of health care organizations in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania and Kenya, and studied the impact the bikes had on healthcare provision.
Bicycles allow health care providers to reach more clients, more quickly, while also allowing them to spend more time with patients.
At the Worcester Hospice in South Africa, which provides nursing care to the terminally ill, workers on bicycles were able to cover three times the distance they did on foot, reaching 15 more patients each day. In Ghana, an education group called Youth Against AIDS now reaches 50 percent more patients, while cutting the organization’s transport costs in half.
ITDP’s Access Africa program was the first to combine the provision of good quality, low cost bicycles to health care service providers with an effort to develop a sustainable private sector vehicle supply. All of the bicycles distributed by the Access Africa program were designed specifically for use in Africa – the six-speed California Bike and the less expensive, one-speed Sahelia. The bicycle donations are being channeled through independent bicycle dealers that belong to the California Bike Coalition in order to create a permanent role for local businesses in ongoing repair and maintenance.