Bambulance Pilot Project On the Go In Kenya
Design For Development Society is extremely excited to be pioneering research into the use of sustainable local materials in the design and manufacture of emergency medical transportation devices (EMTD). We are currently developing plans for a project in which we will design and pilot a bamboo EMTD for western Kenya.
Primarily, the Design For Development Society seeks to improve the referral of debilitated patients to health clinics or hospitals from local communities and homesteads in situations where motorized transport is unavailable or inappropriate. We hope to promote the bamboo ambulance as a viable means of emergency transport, offering faster transit times and being a realistic, affordable and sustainable solution to the issue of patient transport.
Second, the project seeks to utilize locally available and sustainable materials in the manufacture of the medical transport device. Bamboo has been identified as an appropriate and affordable structural material that is available in this region;
Third, the project seeks to provide skills training and sustainable employment opportunities for HIV+ women;
Fourth, the project seeks to facilitate community health workers in transporting their clients as per their healthcare objectives, and to provide a source of local, affordable medical transport for HIV/AIDS health organizations, aid agencies, communities, NGOs and government in Kenya.
Having identified western Kenya as a suitable location for the project, the intention of Design For Development Society is to design, produce and pilot 5 bamboo ambulances. The Design For Development Society will work to set up a small facility for the manufacture of the ambulances.
Two Nairobi based local organizations have been identified as the most likely end manufacturers of the ambulances. WEEP is a program that assists AIDS widows and HIV+ women in learning a trade and becoming self-sufficient. The Community Transformers are a group of young people in the Mathare Slums who provide home-based care and support in their community. Both groups have skills and needs that complement the project. This building of social capital and providing a means of increasing economic opportunity for these group should be considered no small part of the project output.
In addition to designing and manufacturing an initial prototype responsive to local needs and environment, the project includes distribution of the 5 bamboo EMTDs to communities and community healthcare providers as determined by project stake-holders. It is intended that HEART assist in identifying suitable sites for the ambulances, liaise with local communities and offer project support. Design For Development and HEART will manage the project jointly, with the ambulance designer participating in project management and monitoring.
The purpose of this project is to create an affordable and sustainable means of health and emergency transport for rural communities in Kenya. In order to accomplish this goal, Design for Development will:
- Design a bamboo EMTD prototype that is responsive to local needs;
- Establish a small manufacturing facility for the production of the EMTDs in western Kenya;
- Teach local residents to manufacture the products, providing technical training and skills;
- Manufacture and distribute an initial run of 5 bamboo EMTDs;
- Provide community-based training in the management and maintenance of the ambulance fleet; and
- Establish a system of community-based project monitoring and evaluation.
The Bambulance Project is an open-source, ongoing process combining ethical design practices and social responsibility to aid communities in need. Senior design students at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, Canada are working under the mentorship of the Design For Development Society and our Kenyan partners. The EMTD design process will continue through the spring of 2008, with the piloting stage of the project to begin in June 2008. Please contact us for more information.