UNDP's support to bamboo bike development yields results in Ghana

18 Dec 2013

imageMs. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon (second right) and partners of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative (with Ms. Bernice Dapaah at extreme left)

The Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative has presented a bamboo bicycle to Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, during a brief ceremony at the UNDP office premises in Ghana. The bicycles have been produced through the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme as an innovative means to combat climate change.

The bicycles, which use locally grown bamboo, were pioneered by the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative with the support of the Small Grants Programme. The strong, but light bamboo bikes can be used for multiple purposes in a variety of terrains. “The use of bamboo as the raw material for the initiative is a good innovation that is putting Ghana on the world map. Bamboo is readily available and can produce oxygen to displace carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, reducing climate change”, noted Ruby.

Under the auspices of the GEF Small Grants Programme, the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative is developing into a sound social enterprise. It has established a fully operational training center and bike factory at Nkawie in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It is led by young women to develop a climate-smart, alternative mode of transport while simultaneously creating employment opportunities for women and the youth with little or no education.

The initiative has not only provided stable, higher-paying jobs for ten bike builders, but also empowered lives and created jobs along the value chain for the suppliers of bamboo and distributers of the bicycles. “Though we have not fully reached the stage of mass production, our current production rate is about 20 bicycles per month”, intimated Ms. Bernice Dapaah, the Executive Director of the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative. “Due to the high-quality, demand for our bamboo bikes is high, now standing at over 500 pieces a month, coming from both Ghana and abroad”, she added.

Receiving the bike, Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon praised the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative for the effort that drives the innovation. Ruby eulogized Bernice for her pioneering role in the initiative being a woman and encouraged the team to produce tailor-made bicycles that are responsive to the needs of rural women, particularly pregnant mothers. This, she stressed, can go a long way in reducing maternal mortality and accelerating the achievement of other Millennium Development Goals.  

Bernice hinted that the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative also produces tricycles that support women to cart goods from their farms to the market. She maintained that with support from AU Women and Zoomlion Ghana Limited, the initiative is producing a prototype bamboo bike ambulance to support emergencies in rural Ghana.
 
The Programme Coordinator of the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, Mr. George Ostin thanked members of the National Steering Committee of the Programme for their unflinching support and keen interest in the initiative which currently engages over 20 workers along the value chain.

The Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative supported by the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme has so far won dozens of awards including the Seed Initiative, Impact Business Awards and the World Business and Development Awards.

In November, 2013 the initiative received widespread global attention when the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres test rode the Ghana-made bamboo bikes. The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative was selected for the “2013 Momentum for Change – Lighthouse Activities” at the UNFCCC COP19 in Warsaw.