Pedaling for progress with cargo bikes

Thursday, August 15, 2013

For Victoria Holanda, fetching water used to be a backbreaking chore. “Dati ay suson naming mag-asawa ang isang kawayan; ang timba ay nasa gitna naming dalawa,” she recalled. “Inaabot kami ng tatlong oras araw-araw sa pag-igib ng tubig mula sa isang bukal na 500 metro ang layo sa bahay namin.”

Poor access to potable water is just one of the problems plaguing Holanda and her neighbors in Barangay Madulao in Catanauan, Quezon province. Many of them farm or fish; they barely make ends meet. They can hardly afford the costs of getting themselves and their goods from point A to point B. And child labor prevails in the community: 166 children engage in work that deprives them of their childhood and their dignity.

How do you solve the intertwined problems of a poor community such as Barangay Madulao? A development agency would usually launch a livelihood program to create jobs. But JP Alipio and Danielle Guillen put their heads together and had a brain wave: to create what is probably the first community-owned and -managed cargo bicycle rental system in the Philippines.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) chose Barangay Madulao to be the site of a facility that would turn agricultural waste into charcoal. Alipio, field coordinator of ILO’s Bondoc Local Economic Development Program, thought of including the use of cargo bicycles in the program. He got in touch with Guillen, manager of the Inclusive Mobility project implemented by the Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid in Southeast Asia Program at the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG).

“Mobility is not something we really look at in the world of development work,” said Alipio. “You put down the livelihood program, but you don’t help people get the product from the house to the market.”

Source: GMA News (link opens in a new window)

Impact Assessment
rural development