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Change Begins with a Bicycle – some frequently asked questions

Where is the focus of the Change Begins with a Bicycle?

All We Can is working with a local partner organisation, FABIO (the First African Bicycle Information Organisation) in Uganda, and specifically in an area of rural Uganda around Jinja. The community we are focusing on in the Change Begins with a Bicycle resources is called Butagaya.

How long has FABIO been around / been a partner of All We Can?

FABIO has existed since 1994 as a bicycle workshop, and has steadily evolved in a fully-fledged charity that advocates for and champions the development of inclusive non-motorised transport in Uganda. FABIO seeks to use the bicycle as a means to change lives by empowering people living in poor households.
All We Can has been working with FABIO since 2018, and we are excited to see that partnership continuing to grow and flourish.

What type of bikes are FABIO supplying and where do they source bikes from?

There are two different types of bike, one that is well suited to life in the rural areas, where the bicycle needs to be more durable, and a ‘city’ style bike for people in Jinja. FABIO are also an incredibly innovative charity, and work to make bicycles with different sorts of adaptions – including bicycles for people with disabilities, cargo bikes, bicycles adapted for carrying water, and even an ambulance bicycle!

Why don’t people just sell the bikes they are given?

FABIO builds a culture of community ownership, where every member of the community is responsible for the project outcomes – including security concerns. If a bicycle is misused or sold, the community can easily report this to the relevant authorities. Equally, FABIO carefully monitor the bicycles by putting identification marks on them before handing them over to those who will be using them. They also track the serial number of the bicycles, and follow up on them with regular monitoring exercises in the community.

What are roads like in Uganda? Are they suited to bicycles?

In rural regions, like Butagaya, the quality of roads can vary. Many of the main roads through rural communities are wide, dusty tracks, which are suited for cycling. However, they can become easily waterlogged and muddy during the rainy season. They are often, however, better suited to bicycles than cars and it is partly because of the poor condition of the roads that there are not alternative methods of transport (for example, mini-buses). There are smaller tracks for less popular routes, which aren’t as well suited for bicycles – they can be rocky and difficult terrain. One thing is for certain though – it is easier to cycle on the roads than to walk!

Is primary / secondary school education in Uganda free?

In 1997, the Ugandan government introduced universal primary education, so that all children could access free primary education in Uganda’s public schools. In 2007, Uganda became the first sub-Saharan African country to introduce the same initiative for secondary schools, which has markedly improved access to education. However, the quality of education in these schools is often poor, and even in rural regions, many students attend fee-paying schools, as resources and the quality of education are much better. As is to be expected, these fee-paying schools are too expensive for many of the most vulnerable families living in rural Uganda.

I want to help, can I send a bicycle out to Uganda?

Firstly, whilst that seems like a lovely idea, the cost of shipping and the logistics are likely to be prohibitive, even for a bulk order of bicycles. However, secondly – and most importantly – shipping resources like this undermines the local partner, their methods of sourcing the bikes and local businesses and jobs involved in acquiring, building and maintaining the bikes.  If you have a bicycle you no longer need, it would be great if you were willing to sell it to someone who needed it here in the UK, and donate the money raised to help more people break the cycle of poverty!

Have any more questions?

We’re happy to help. You can contact one of All We Can’s friendly Supporter Care team about Change Begins with a Bicycle by calling +44 (0)20 7467 5132 or emailing info@allwecan.org.uk.