One out of every eight people across the globe—nearly one billion people—live in rural communities, far from the nearest paved road. Rural populations must walk along dirt tracks, sometimes for hours, to reach markets, health clinics, and schools. Alternatives to walking, like mini-buses and motorcycle taxis, are cost prohibitive for daily use. Without access to essential services and reliable transportation, they remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. This is particularly true for women and girls who face additional barriers.
For the past 18 years, World Bicycle Relief has championed rural transport through bicycles and low-cost, sustainable models that expand access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. Through partnerships with NGOs, aid organizations, governments and the communities themselves, we’ve worked to scale programming in 21 countries around the world.
That’s why we’re excited to share the “Bicycles for Rural Africans Transport Act,” a bill recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. The bill would provide funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development to promote rural access for communities through affordable, fit-for-purpose bicycles.
In order for this critical legislation to move forward, we need your help to secure as many Congressional co-sponsors as possible.
The bill supports rural communities’ sustainable access to critical services and opportunities, such as education, healthcare and livelihoods, as well as local mechanics, access to spare parts, reduction of social- and gender-based stigmas and community management of bicycle programs.
The legislation calls for major attention to the often overlooked issue in Africa, with proposed funding starting at $3 million for FY 23-24 and increasing thereafter. Such funding would exponentially increase the number of Africans with access to bicycles, whether that be community health workers, farmers, rural students, agricultural extension agents, or other community service workers without access to reliable transportation.