Beasts of burden: The bicycle vs. the donkey

In 2016, World Bicycle Relief and development partners World Vision and the Ministry of Education rolled out a Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) at Raliew Secondary School in Siaya County, Kenya. We recently visited Raliew to collect data about the distance students travel to and from school, student attendance and performance, and any issues the students have with their Buffalo Bicycles.

On that visit, we met Mary, a single mom and dressmaker whose daughters attend the school. Mary told us a surprising story about the dramatic economic savings that had come to the family once her daughter received a Buffalo Bicycle.

“My daughter Jane is using the bicycle and coming to school on time. I am using it when I go to collect water. The jugs are wrapped with a rope, we tighten them down and just do it.”

Time spent walking to and from water wells impacts the productivity of women and children. Combined, women and children spend 200 million hours collecting water every day globally. Compared to walking, riding a bicycle is four times faster and allows a person to carry five times as much water per trip.  The importance of water & bicycles

The bicycle keeps Mary from having to shell out her hard-earned money just to meet basic needs. “We use the bicycle for transporting maize from the shamba (farm, field, plot) instead of paying 200KSH ($2) for things like donkey transport.”

Mary’s girls now move their maize, potatoes and water via bicycle rather than going by donkey. The bicycle can carry half of a sack of vegetables at a time, which weighs 50kgs (110 lbs), or two to four water jugs. The girls can ride the bicycle when carrying a half bag or two jugs. If they choose to carry four water jugs, they push the bicycle like it is a cart.

With access to clean water by bicycle, the benefits to students, women, and their families are exponential. Benefits include improved hygiene, better food safety, and the prevention of waterborne sickness and disease. Students and families have more time and energy to thrive.  Why you should take action with bicycles

Pushing a bicycle is much easier than pushing a donkey. Either way, whether making two trips or pushing a heavy load, the bicycle is always faster. Mary sums this up, “The donkey is okay. The bicycle is VERY good.”

Less time spent walking for water means more time for school, economic opportunities and future welfare. You can make a life-changing difference by supporting BEEP.