The Power of Bicycles is transformative in countless ways, providing the means for children to access education, healthcare workers to reach patients, and farmers to sell their goods at market. But the impact continues, and as World Bicycle Relief joins the global community in observing World Water Day on March 22, we want to share how Buffalo Bicycles provide access to clean, life-giving water.
WBR Monitoring and Evaluation Officer David Zvipore has recently been recording the household benefits of the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Project (BEEP) in Zimbabwe, noting that many school children use their Buffalo Bicycles to carry water to and from their homes. In drought prone areas like the one near Muleja where David works, the chore of water collection generally falls on school-age girls who can spend several hours a day trekking to and from deep water boreholes (wells) to provide water for their families. In fact, surveys from 45 developing countries show that in two-thirds of households without a water source on the premises, it is women and girls who collect water.
In many areas throughout Africa, it can take eight hours per trip to collect water that only lasts a day or two. Women often walk 10-15 kilometers (6-10 miles) per day to carry 15 liters (4 gallons) on their shoulders or heads for the long trek home. In South Africa alone, women collectively walk the equivalent distance of 16 times to the moon and back per day to gather water for their families! Spending most of their waking hours collecting a basic necessity prevents women and children from attending school, farming or doing other income-generating activities. It also eliminates the time for family care and community life important aspects of life in any culture. So when the trek for water is decreased in time or distance, quality of life improves instantly. For example, in Tanzania, when water was available within a 15-minute trip, school attendance increased by 12 percent.
In World Bicycle Relief’s programs in Zimbabwe, in partnership with iGATE, David Zvipore began to notice the number of children using their Buffalo Bicycle to fetch water. He immediately understood the massive impact it would have on their day to day activities. He explains,
This is an interesting aspect of the impact of BEEP on lessening the burden of household chores for children. . . it means this girl can now arrive home early from school, fetch water in time to get home for evening household chores, which usually would take her up to sunset to complete. She now has ample time spared for evening school work and is better rested and refreshed due to the lesser burden of carrying a water bucket for many hours.
The more efficient access to water due to bicycle transport also prevents sickness and disease, as more frequent trips to the boreholes bring cleaner water into the home, improving household hygiene and food safety. Bike travel also reduces personal safety risks for women and children, who now spend fewer hours walking alone, often after sunset when there is a risk of abduction and abuse.
As we observe World Water Day, World Bicycle Relief is committed to providing life-changing transportation to women and children across the globe, allowing easier, safer access to every human’s basic need clean, life-giving water.