Transaid’s Chair of Trustees, Jo Godsmark, writes from the saddle of the five day challenge. Read about her adventure in her blog below.
Day 1 of Transaid’s Cycle Zambia challenge
So here we are in Lusaka, after nearly 20 hours of travelling. Its warm and we’re all glad not to be on a plane anymore.
We flew via Addis Ababa which was a revelation: a patchwork of small green fields, rolling hills and streams – nothing like the caricature view of famine and parched land that I wrongly held of Ethiopia. By the time we were flying over Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia the landscape was noticeably drier at what is near the end of the dry season.
After arriving and finding out that all 47 pieces of checked luggage had made it (to the great relief of all of us) we headed off to the Industrial Training Centre (ITC). The ITC provides professional driver training for PSV and HGV drivers; Transaid and our corporate partners have been supporting the ITC for 10 years. It was the first driver training centre that Transaid supported and from these roots our work in Tanzania, Uganda and other countries has developed. Support is in the form of expert trainers from the UK who help Train the Trainers, as well as the provision of buses, trucks and forklifts to the centre to enable the trainees to practise.
We received a strong welcome at ITC and a fantastic lunch. It was also lovely to see our new Zambian based trustee, Phidelia Mwaba again, as she joined us for the afternoon.
After the work of the ITC had been explained to us cyclists, we were then also privileged to meet the designer of the bicycle ambulance and some of the bicycle ambulance volunteers, who had travelled seven hours from Serenje province in order to meet us and describe their work on the Mamaz Against Malaria project. I think all the cyclists found this a moving and humbling experience.
A lovely meal to the sound of hugely noisy frogs, and we are off to bed – 5:30 start tomorrow morning!
Thank you again to my corporate sponsors for the challenge: logistics property experts sbh and the logistics and supply chain consultancy, Model Logic.
I now have two new bronze sponsors: materials handling experts, Emkat Solutions, and software developers, Green Gorilla Applications. Look out a full set of sponsored kit tomorrow!
Day 2 of Transaid’s Cycle Zambia challenge
I’m sitting by the fire in our campsite in Mazabuka having survived Day 2 of the trip and Day 1 of the cycling. It was hot. It was rough and dusty but we all got here.
We started with a bus transfer to get us out of Lusaka, and then started with 20km of tarmac road with the normal African challenges of no hard shoulder, trucks and busses rambling past as you over take a goat. Our route snaked up some hills (I love hills) where we had been warned there was likely to be a broken-down truck. There was, just by a bend, which we had to gingerly get past. It is not just the condition of the roads and the inconsistency in the way drivers are trained that makes some of Africa’s roads so dangerous, it is also the state of the vehicles and the lack of measures to separate vulnerable road users from trucks and buses.
After a break we turned off the main road and most of the rest of the day was a 48km of a challenging mix of corrugated dirt road with sand and stony patches. There were even sections where the road was covered with molasses from the sugar cane that grows locally. It turns out that black molasses is an excellent surface for reflecting the heat back into your face as you cycle along! All along the road there were kids who came and waved at us and sometimes asked for a photo.
Although we found the road surface a challenge, roads like these are a lifeline for rural communities and there are still millions of people who live more than 2km from even a dirt road. Without roads, farmers have difficulties getting their crops to market, and the wider community’s access to jobs and healthcare is compromised. The UN has a Sustainable Development Goal of everyone having access to a rural road that is no more than 2km away from them by 2030. Transaid is currently working on a DFID funded Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP) project, capturing the views of experienced rural access experts across the world. The interviews are exploring successful solutions to common problems and looking at how technology and climate change might influence rural road access in the future. All the learnings will be freely accessible ReCAP’s website later this year.
The funds from Cycle Zambia will help Transaid continue to support road safety and rural access initiatives and pilot new approaches to dealing with some of these difficult but important challenges. You can support by making a donation on http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/JoGodsmarkZambia.
To those who have already supported myself and other cyclists, including my generous sponsors, thank you!