BICYCLE TRAILERS IN
Report on Practical Action Bicycle Trailers used in Lundazi, Zambia by
Alison Noble working for VSO
I was working in Lundazi, Eastern Province Zambia on a VSO Placement as a Management
Advisor to small community groups and NGOs in the District, October 2003 – October 2005.
While I had heard of the work of ITDG (now Practical Action) for many years, I learned the
details of one project while on a visit to Ndiwa in Kenya where my daughter was assisting an
ITDG project on Bicycle Taxis. The taxis businesses had been sponsored by my home town of
Steyning in West Sussex for a Millennium project.
In Zambia I was working in a very rural location. The main town of Lundazi has a population
of about 10,000 surrounded by a District of 14,000 square kilometres with a population of
250,000. The main occupation is subsistence farming of maize, ground nuts and beans with
cotton and tobacco as cash crops. Poverty is widespread, UN State of the World’s Children
Report 2003 quotes 86% Zambian population below the poverty line. Literacy levels: 32% of
the population of Eastern Province are fully literate but this falls to 20% when considering
women only (Zambia Central Statistics Office 2000).
Why Bicycle Trailers?
In Eastern Province the main forms of transport are walking and bicycle. All luggage is
carried balanced on the head (by women) or on bicycles using the cross bar or the small
luggage rack at the back (for men). Two 50kg sacks are maize are transported in this way
with the bicycle being pushed along – sometimes up to 30km when transporting to town.
Motor vehicles are not common in the District and expensive to hire even as a passenger let
alone carrying heavy luggage. Most villages are accessible only by foot, bicycle or ox cart.
I had seen some bicycle trailers in use in Kenya but noticed that, although there are many
hundreds of bicycles in Eastern Province in Zambia there were no trailers. I was given a
donation of $400 by a private individual from UK and determined to use this to purchase
some trailers in Lundazi.
I contacted a local welder who not only spoke English but also has some specialist training
and understood the diagrams as given in the Practical Action Technical Brief. He estimated
that he could make a trailer for K500,000 – about $100 using locally available materials
such as bicycle parts.
Who Benefited from the Trailers?
I had funding for 4 trailers at K500,000 each. I requested payment of K100,000 from each
recipient group as an indication of their commitment to the supported project and to
encourage self-sufficiency. I was, therefore, able to commission 5 trailers.
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