Bike Ambulance Project Launched in Namibia

Design For Development is thrilled to announce the successful launch of a bicycle ambulance initiative in Namibia. Together with project partners, the Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia (BENN), Design For Development will enable the manufacture and delivery of more than 60 bike ambulances to communities in Namibia.

The bicycle ambulance initiative addresses a critical need for medical transportation in rural Namibia. Designed and prototyped by both project partners, the bicycle ambulance is a bike-pulled stretcher that offers faster, safer and more comfortable patient transport than is currently available. Over the past few years, the bicycle ambulance has proven to be an appropriate and effective means of healthcare transport for villages in southern Africa.

Design For Development firmly believes in providing sustainable and appropriate solutions to the issues that they address. In the case of the Namibia project, the ambulance is designed to use readily-available materials. Local tradespeople are taught to manufacture the bike ambulance, and community-based training is provided for the management and maintenance of the ambulances. Design For Development's goal is not only to improve health transportation -- but to increase skills and opportunities for members of the communities that they work with.

In a recent trip to launch the project, co-founder Niki Dun was privileged to meet many of the people who will use the bicycle ambulances. Most of the ambulances will go to community-based health organizations where local home-based care volunteers transport clients to clinic or hospital. These volunteers give their time and energy to care for the sick in their communities — primarily HIV/AIDS patients and the elderly.

"In a country with an unemployment rate of more than 30% and a population that makes less than $3 a day," says Niki, "these volunteers are men and women who, although they have very little themselves, work to help those who have even less."

The bike ambulance project and partnership between Design For Development and Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia will ensure that these dedicated volunteers have the means to help the vulnerable in their communities, to provide improved healthcare, and ultimately, to save lives.

To view images of the Namibia bicycle ambulance project, see www.flickr.com/desfordev

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How you can help

We are very, very excited about this project and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people of rural Namibia. In order to do so, we need the assistance of project partners and interested individuals such as yourselves. We welcome volunteers and donations so that we can all help to save lives.