We simply couldn’t do it alone

VBP relies on a number of organisations across the UK, US and Canada, for donations of bicycles to meet the demand for our programs in Africa. We simply couldn’t do it alone!

Last month, during a visit to Ghana, VBP Director Dave Peckham, met with two of our biggest supporters – Re-Cycle and Bikes Not Bombs. It’s the first time all three organisations were represented in Ghana at the same time, and we thought it was worth a photo…

Dave Peckham (second left) is pictured with Re-Cycle’s Operations Manager, Derek Balcombe (far left), and Bikes Not Bomb’s International Programs Director, David Branigan (fourth right), alongside the Ability Bikes Cooperative team, at their workshop in Koforidua.

Both Re-Cycle and Bikes Not Bombs plan to ship bicycles to VBP programs next month. The bicycles will be distributed at One Day Workshops in both Ghana and Sierra Leone.

VBP Welcomes its new Program Coordinator in Ghana

In 2011, we commissioned a report on the effectiveness of our One Day workshops in Ghana’s Upper West Region from our Women’s Program Coordinator, Liz Bageant. The report looks at issues of targeting, usage patterns, repair and maintenance behaviors, and the access and affordability of replacements parts.

“Liz’s research was an essential piece to VBP growth and development. Her findings put a foundation under the anecdotal assumptions we’ve had about the weaknesses of the program for some time. We are now making changes, confident that we are addressing real problems,” said VBP’s Director, Dave Peckham.

The momentum gained from Liz’s tenure in Ghana will be carried on by newly hired Program Coordinator, Jason Finch. The Program Coordinator position was designed carefully with research findings in mind, and Jason’s primary tasks include adjusting the program to put more emphasis on identifying mechanical problems and capacity building with village repairers as well as developing systems to more carefully target and vet bicycle recipients.

Jason previously worked for one of VBP’s partner organizations, Re-Cycle (out of Colchester, UK) where his main work was building, developing and managing a self-sufficient bike shop in a small town in Ghana. VBP has collaborated with Jason on various small projects for two years prior to him taking the Program Coordinator position. Thus Jason brings familiarity with cultural big picture as well as experience with VBP programs and investment in new directions for VBP.

Welcome, Jason!

Carrier Program Extended to all Workshops

Last year we initiated a pilot-program in Ghana to mass-produce 200 cargo-carriers to accompany bicycles offered to workshops in the Upper West Region. The carriers were made locally in Wa – the regional capital, and cost GHc5 or $3 each.

Our resident Program’s Coordinator Liz Bageant, led the program and oversaw the carriers distributed to Jirapa and Piina‘s outlying villages.

“The positive response to the carriers was overwhelming,” she said, “as people perceive them to be much stronger than the factory-made carriers that are most commonly used in the area. Our carriers are strong enough to carry passengers over rough roads, not to mention other heavy loads that are commonly hauled about in rural Ghana.”

carriers1

Following Liz’s appraisal, we returned to Wa earlier this week to meet master welder A-Karim, and order another 270 carriers. We also tweaked the design to fit the larger, more cumbersome fenders which are widely available and popular in the rainy seasons.

We now plan to offer our made-in-Ghana carriers alongside bicycles in all upcoming programs, whilst these next 270 will go to workshops in the Upper West and Brong Ahafo regions over the next two months.

Ko-Nandom, Ghana

Welcome to the new Village Bicycle Project blog. From here we’ll be regularly posting news and updates on our work and whereabouts.

To begin, today we’re in Ko, a tiny village about 14kms from the Burkina Faso border in the Namdom province of Ghana’s Upper West Region.

St Monica’s Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM) contacted the VBP earlier this year requesting bicycles and workshops for its members. As WOM’s coordinator Sylvester Angwanonenoah Zakpalah-Dere told us; “most widows and orphans lose rights and ownership to whatever properties they might have acquired with their late husbands to relatives of the deceased… In carrying out their daily chores, they have to walk long distances to attend their group meetings, farms, markets, hospitals, church services, and funerals.”

Liz Bagent (pictured), spent two days in Ko meeting with the community’s organizers who had sent representatives from no less than 11 villages. We’ve since allocated 100 bicycles to Ko and plan to return in early May for some final preparations before holding programs in June.

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