Basic Utility Vehicles for Rural Transportation

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The Entrepreneurs Vehicle

 In the last blog, I mentioned that one of the ways BUVs were helpful in Cameroon was by providing men with good, paying jobs.  One of the other helpful attributes of the BUV is that the BUV allows families to haul more crops to the market.  The market in Cameroon only happens on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  The market in Haiti, around the Port-au-Prince area where I was in May of 2010, happens on a similar week day and then on Saturday.  These are the only two days that farmers/entrepreneurs can sell their crops or goods.  Therefore not only does the BUV provide more jobs in the community, it also helps farmers/sellers get their crops to the market on the only two days a week that they can sell their goods.  In fact, around 40% of the goods grown are lost from not being able to sell them due to the lack of means of transportation.  As mentioned before, most people do not want to take a taxi to the market because that essentially takes away some money from the small amount of money they will earn that day. 

One of the biggest hassles for our team was traveling, not because of the lack of transportation but because of the severity of the unpaved roads and the distance between everything.  The big market near the village that we lived in is in Bangang, which was about an hour away by foot with very little on your back.  Therefore it is somewhat unrealistic to just bring some of the goods to the market and yet it is also unrealistic to bring everything.  A seller never wants to run out but they also never want to have to carry a bunch of their own goods home along with any other purchases they made; it is all about a balance.  While how much to bring is a guessing game every week, it could become less of a hit-or-miss experience with the help of the BUV.  Not only could several farmers bring their goods to the market all at one time, they could also always go back for more if they run out; whereas now people will just pack up when they run out.  This could drastically change how much money some families are surviving on, allowing kids to get a good education and stay in school.


Purdue's Cameroon Trip 2011

As a member of the Purdue BUV team, I was able to go to Cameroon in May.  We had spent the past year designing a new BUV that we then took to Cameroon.  We spent 3 weeks building our design from scratch and seeing how it would impacts lives there.  There were about 12 of us on the team including the Professor.  One of the most noticeable culture differences was the fact that it was the women that worked all day not the men, even though it is a male-dominated culture.  We were in a small rural farming town, and quickly found out that harvesting and working in the fields is considered to be women's work.  Therefore in that specific town, the women would work in the fields all day and carry all of the crops to the market on the market days.  Because this is considered women and children's work but driving is considered men's work, the women walk to the market.  Very rarely did the women take a cab because their families have so little money to begin with.  

Since pretty much all of the work in the area is considered to be women's work, there are a lot of men that do not contribute to the families income at all.  Therefore one of the ways that the BUV can be helpful in a community like this one, is that it would put the men to work.  The men would be able to come alongside the women to help contribute money to their family by driving the BUV and would therefore not be spending all day at the bar.  This is just one of the many ways that a BUV can change the lives of entire villages with very little impact by outside countries or even outside villages.


The IAT summer intern

Melissa Cole


Maternal mortality, Africa, and transport

According to multiple surveys, newspaper articles, and books, maternal mortality in Africa hinders economic and societal development in many countries. Let’s look at what the World Bank says in its recent report on the issue. 

There’s a relationship between mobility, power and well being. The differences between male and female travel patterns and the cultural rules and roles associated with these differences are under charted in the policy environment. The impact of constrained mobility on bargaining also has its impact on what comes to be available as resource and service within local constraints. And as a conclusion, the authors of the report suggest several solutions for the challenge: 

-         Specific transport and maternal mortality projects (safe motherhood transport plans – Malawi, transport within safe motherhood unions - Zegoua, Mali, targeted approaches which integrate transport - Senegal and Mali, using the existing fleet of vehicles: the yellow flag initiative in West Africa);

-         Mobile maternal health clinics;

-         Roadside wellness centers: the intersection of health needs, and so on. 


Global health issues, Africa, and basic transportation

Is there any connection between global health challenges and basic transportation? Just imagine: in a remote village somewhere in Central Africa a child is dying of malaria, but the nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away and the villagers have only a narrow dirt road connecting them to the outer world… Who can address this challenge?

Several people from my professional network told me about an amazing organization which takes to heart all the pain and difficulties associated with the global health challenges in the developing world – VIGH (The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health). VIGH is in the position to connect knowledge, skill and education globally, infusing communities around the world with greater ability to restore and improve the lives of their people.


Basic Transportation and Community Access in Africa

People in this world have many challenges in their lives, especially if a community where they reside in does not have a good road infrastructure. Personally I applaud the African Community Access Programme (AFCAP) for its strong desire to address this “infrastructure challenge” in the developing world. AFCAP is designed to address the challenge of providing reliable access for poor communities. Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by Crown Agents, AFCAP provides advice and undertakes research to deliver safe and sustainable access to rural communities. 

Take a moment and visit the AFCAP’s web site. You’ll be really amazed by the scope of the projects: 

-        Ethiopia - the new Low Volume Roads Design Manual was launched at the Road Sector Development. 

-        Mozambique - several research sections have now been constructed in different parts of the country. They include mainly graded natural aggregate seals on natural gravel bases.  

-        Malawi - the study of design standards for low volume sealed roads is close to completion.

-        Kenya - the training inputs for the labour-based construction of emulsion stabilized base and cold premix surfacing on a road in Central Province is likely to continue in March/April with finding from the Roads 2000 programme.      

-         Tanzania - the construction of the research/demonstration site near Bagomoyo is continuing, with sealing works expected to commence in May. 

Quite impressive? Imagine if one can help AFCAP complete these projects by providing a reliable vehicle to facilitate the delivery of human resources and construction materials from local villages and small towns to the project sites. I think that a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) is a perfect “work tool” for AFCAP and Crown Agents. I do hope that AFCAP sees a huge potential in partnering with IAT in Africa.  


A Question Posed by the World Bank

"Can better roads reduce poverty?" This question is the title of an entry on Africa Can, a World Bank blog. The article goes on to point out that despite terrible road conditions in parts of Africa, road and market connectivity can be maintained. Though roads may be impassable to cars, motorcycles are often used and have less trouble navigating rough terrain. Therefore, according to the article, building better roads may not necessarily have a significant impact on economic development, since connections already exist. 

Connections may exist, but by-and-large they are not efficient connections. Impoverished communities should not wait or rely on government action as an immediate solution to rural infrastructure problems--many governments in Africa lack the capital or coordination and are marked by severe corruption. However, instead of focusing on infrastructure development (an expensive, complex and time consuming task), a transportation solution can be offered. As mentioned in the World Bank article, motorcycles are more efficient at navigating poor road conditions but cannot carry heavier loads or many passengers. The BUV addresses the deficiencies in both the infrastructure and poor transport options. In its simplest form, a BUV can carry payloads up to 1200lbs, several passengers, and overcome difficult terrain.

That is not to say roads should be ignored. A proper infrastructure is particularly necessary for heavier loads that are needed around urban centers and ports. Such improvements could increase the economic prosperity of a country as a whole. Nevertheless, communities in rural areas can greatly benefit from a better transportation option now. Can better transport reduce poverty?


Malawi, Africa: Basic Utility Vehicles Used for Maize Transport

According to this report from the Malawi Project, Inc., basic transportation is very helpful in harvesting maize and decreasing malnutrition levels. Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi. It is a land locked country centrally positioned on the surface of the African continent. It has a population of 13.5 million people. While a stretch of the population near the lake shore depends on cassava as its main food, and the rest of the nation has varied amounts of potatoes, millet, sorghum, and other fruits, the main food commodity is maize (corn).

In recent weeks the harvest has started. Malawians are in the process of bringing in their harvest of maize. Unlike previous years, when the transportation of grain was a challenge, this year thanks to the Malawi Project and its timely and valuable donation of the Basic Utility Vehicle, the grain is being easily moved from field to warehouse. What a wonderful example of how we can help transform lives of working poor in the developing world through basic transportation!


Transportation in Landlocked Developing Countries: Kazakhstan

According to this article at the United Nations’ website, lack of territorial access to the sea, remoteness and isolation from world markets and high transit costs continue to impose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development of landlocked developing countries. Their sea borne trade unavoidably depends on transit through other countries. Additional border crossings and long distance from the market substantially increase the total expenses for the transport services. Landlocked developing countries are generally among the poorest of the developing countries, with the weakest growth rates, and are typically heavily dependent on a very limited number of commodities for their export earnings. Moreover, of 30 landlocked developing countries 16 are classified as least developed.

In my opinion, even with poor road infrastructure and remoteness from the sea such developing countries as Kazakhstan can significantly improve the life of working poor by providing an affordable basic vehicle. The terrain of this Central Asian country is a perfect fit for a Basic Utility Vehicle - vast flat steppe extending from the Volga in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east and from the plains of western Siberia in the north to oases and deserts of Central Asia in the south. Kazakhstan possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. BUVs can be used in many agricultural applications and are suitable for mining. I look forward to working with local entrepreneurs and helping build BUV based businesses in Kazakhstan!


Food Assistance in the Transition from Recovery to Sustainable Development in Liberia, West Africa

Take a look at this picture… Can we provide a better future for this young man in Liberia, West Africa? Five years after a destructive 14-year war, formidable challenges still hinder Liberia’s drive to recovery. Poverty is pervasive while food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread…

But there is HOPE. According to this article from the World Food Programme, International community has such a strong desire to contribute to Liberia’s ongoing transition recovery by rebuilding rural livelihoods, reducing malnutrition, and strengthening national capacities to reduce hunger. One suggestion would be to think about affordable, reliable transportation for working poor. This young man with a wheelbarrow could drive a Basic Utility Vehicle. Not only he can help his household, but also he will be able to support his community. A BUV can haul produce, construction materials, can serve as an ambulance as well as help kids from remote places get to a local school. More BUVs can truly transform not only one community, but also the nation of Liberia as a whole. Just a thought…


Disability, Poverty, and Transport

Can a disabled person be a valuable and productive member of a society, especially if he/she is born in the developing world? Some may say “No way – there is no basic infrastructure there!” yet I dare say “Yes, there is an interesting solution.” While reading some articles and executive reports at Disability Knowledge and Research, I’ve been thinking on how a person’s life could be transformed if a reliable yet affordable transportation solution existed… 

Interestingly enough, a few Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs) were re-designed for such people. One good example would be a vehicle for a polio survivor. Take a look at the picture to the left. This is a handicapped man from Kenya, East Africa who started building his new life using a BUV. Instead of being a “burden” to his community, he became an entrepreneur who aside from helping others with physical needs is telling people about his dignity and self-esteem. His smiling face says: “I CAN work!” Do you see how a basic transportation can transform lives of people and communities in the developing world?


New CREATIVE ways to end poverty: One Day’s Wages

Internet and globalization break all the barriers and create such an interesting field for worldwide cooperation. Many have heard about Opportunity International, Hope International, or While surfing the net, I’ve found an interesting online community which actually helps poor worldwide.


One Day’s Wages (ODW) is an international grassroots movement dedicated to ending extreme global poverty. ODW promotes awareness, invites giving, and supports sustainable relief through partnerships, especially with smaller organizations in developing regions. Its vision is to change global issues of injustice affecting millions of people, regardless of race, culture, sex, age, or religion. ODW inspires people around the world to simply donate one day's wages and to renew that pledge monthly, quarterly or yearly on their birthdays to the cause of ending extreme global poverty. Very interesting! This is such a creative way of reminding many of us how blessed we are. By sharing with poor, we can dramatically impact another person’s life.


So, I thought we could empower so many poor worldwide just by providing an opportunity for online community like ODW or to sponsor a BUV to help transform communities and lives of poor worldwide. I consider this to be quite a creative way of breaking the cycle of poverty… Don’t you agree?


Public Transportation Hinders Outreach in India

Recently I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be a missionary in a developing country. For example, let's look at India, a vast Asian country with many remote and densely populated cities and villages, whose road infrastructure and public transportation are very poor. According to this article from Christian Aid Mission, Jeeps are especially useful because they can travel over rough roads, carrying necessary equipment and supplies for a mission work. “To cover such a large geographical area with systematic sowing, we need a jeep for travel – from one city to another and within the cities themselves… Besides passengers, it can carry a good amount of literature and other ministry materials on top."

As an alternative to SUVs, Basic Utility Vehicles may be very useful for outreach in India as they are specifically designed for a rough terrain and 1,200 pound payload. And BUVs are very basic and do not need as much fuel and maintenance as any SUV definitely requires. Just a thought…


Sustainable Development in Africa, Biodiesel, and Basic Transportation

Have you ever heard about Sustainable Development Africa? It provides wind, biomass, waste management including biodiesel feasibility studies and environmental audits. It sets up, manages, and supports projects in Clean Development (CDM) especially for developing countries. Under Sustainable Development Projects, this organization helps establish Biodiesel refineries throughout Africa. 


Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs) are biodiesel ready! Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel to petroleum diesel, and is produced from natural, renewable, agricultural resources such as soybeans or recycled cooking oil.  Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

BUV Biodiesel Facts:

  • The biodiesel engine in the BUV uses less fuel than the gas engine.
  • The BUV uses approximately ¼ of the fuel of a pick-up in off-road conditions.
  • The biodiesel BUV gets over 50 mpg (the gas engine gets 30+ mpg)
  • The advantage for these developing countries and could lead to the creation of more jobs ground pressure of a BUV is less than HALF of a standard pick-up truck.
  • The BUV is friendly to both the right and left side drive.

Sustainable Farm Practices Improve Third World Food Production

Recently I’ve been thinking about world hunger and sustainable farming. ScienceDaily reports that crop yields on farms in developing countries that used sustainable agriculture rose nearly 80 percent in four years, according to a study scheduled for publication in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study, the largest of its kind to date -- 286 farm projects in 57 countries -- concludes that sustainable agriculture protects the environment in these countries while substantially improving the lives of farmers who adopt the resource-conserving practices.


Also, a reliable, affordable transportation like Basic Utility Vehicle can make a difference. Aside from helping local farmers with sustainable agriculture practices, such as conservation tillage and integrated pest control, also reduced pesticide use and increased carbon sequestration, BUV can significantly ease the delivery of fresh produce to the marketplace. In addition, sustainable farming practices require less water, an important factor given that predictions suggest by 2025 most developing countries will face physical or economic water shortages.


Concerns about agriculture-focused aid in the developing world. What about basic transportation?

Have you heard about GiveWell  - an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator? It finds outstanding charities and publishes the full details of the analysis to help donors decide where to give. Unlike existing evaluators, which focus solely on financials, assessing administrative or fundraising costs, GiveWell focuses on how well programs actually work – i.e., their effects on the people they serve.

GiveWell writes that based on the information on the specifics of agriculture programs which comes almost entirely from World Bank's self-evaluations many agriculture projects, especially in Africa have some potential concerns.

 - This cause is not a matter of getting proven programs to those who can't afford them. Past programs have failed to increase farmer incomes.

      - GiveWell have not found a charity in this area that it can confidently recommend.

      - Based on what GiveWell knows, it recommends health programs as a superior way to help improve low-income people's lives.

What about basic transportation mode and BUV? We have some interesting experience in the developing countries like Ghana or Haiti where BUVs are extensively used not only for farming, but for providing various medical and health care services – from helping a doctor get to a remote “off-highway” / “off-road” village to getting medical supplies to a hospital or medical center. Basic transportation can bring both “agricultural” transformation to a community and can improve people’s lives through health care programs in the developing countries. Just a thought…


UN, global freshwater resources, and quality of life in the developing countries

While surfing the Net, I’ve found some shocking statistics in terms of global freshwater resources, sanitation, and quality of life at the UN-Water’s web site. Take a read!

The UN suggests that each person needs 20-50 litres of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Source: World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

More than one in six people worldwide - 894 million - don't have access to this amount of safe freshwater.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP)

Globally, diarrhoea is the leading cause of illness and death, and 88 per cent of diarrhoeal deaths are due to a lack of access to sanitation facilities, together with inadequate availability of water for hygiene and unsafe drinking water.
Source: JMP

Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That's 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
Source: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)


Empowering women: How affordable transportation can improve lives of women in the developing world

Can women drive a BUV? BUVs have many different features that make them suitable for women in the developing world.  They are affordable, safe, durable, have a low center of gravity, and excellent driver visibility. They are also designed with a comfortable seat, that unlike common transportation options such as motorcycles or bicycles, is easy for women to access and ride in with long skirts and dresses. 

 We are aware of the cultural factors that could prevent the BUV from becoming an easily accessible mode of transportation for women in the developing world.  In many cases, women are expected to provide food and water for their families, but their duties, rights, and responsibilities are severely limited beyond those daily tasks. The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) refers to the lack of transportation options for women as a form of “time poverty”.   In developing communities, women are unable to focus on their personal health and education due to the amount of time it takes to perform daily tasks.


Pakistan and basic transportation: any utility vehicles?

While reading some online articles about Pakistan, I’ve found a vehicle which is the product of a joint venture between Jinan Qingqi of China and Suzuki of Japan. It is more of a motorcycle than a scooter. More powerful and less costly. By the time Pakistani ingenuity has its way with the machine, it transforms itself into a six-seater auto-rickshaw-like-thing that is called Qingqi by most people, rather than a rickshaw (and you can always squeeze more, because ‘dil baRRa hoona chahiaye’).


These are found in large and small cities across Pakistan now, but have become particularly prevalent in small towns and secondary cities. The reason for its runaway success is that you do not need to find as many passengers as you do for a ‘wagon’ or a ‘Suzuki dabba‘ but you can charge by the individual passenger rather than for the full ride (as you would for a Taxi or a Rickshaw ride). But what about significant payload? Can this type of vehicle haul water, produce, or construction materials? I doubt… I truly believe that there is a big market for BUVs in Pakistan, yet we should not discard Qingqi as our potential competitor. Just a thought…


Bill Clinton at the World Economic Forum in Davos: Haiti needs cash, trucks

Something very encouraging is happing in the world today. People align to help Haiti – no matter how hard or sacrificial it can be. Former President Bill Clinton called for more help for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, telling the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the country is determined to escape its troubled past.

"This is an opportunity to reimagine the future for the Haitian people, to build what they want to become, not rebuild what they used to be," Clinton, a U.N. special envoy to Haiti, told this influential gathering of business and political leaders at the Swiss resort of Davos. Citing a litany of woes — a lack of food, water, even trucks to distribute what aid has arrived — he called for "cash more than anything else." But if anyone had some pickup trucks, Clinton said he could use those too. "I need 100 yesterday," Clinton said. The forum is appealing to its wealthy corporate members to pitch in aid but even more importantly, invest for the long term in Haiti.

Long term development means to invest into infrastructure development projects and into job creation. Any country – even without devastation like earthquake – is destined to poverty if it has bad roads and lacks basic, reliable yet affordable mode of transportation. I am sure that we can make a difference! Institute for Affordable Transportation invested 10 years into developing a BUV which can help Haiti in many ways – from medical services and water purification projects, to construction and goods delivery. Can YOU help us re-build Haiti and turn a troubled past into a future blessing?


Water purification and basic transportation in developing countries

While thinking about widespread devastation like one in Haiti, I clearly see that one of the biggest challenges Haitians face is unavailability of clear water. Thousands or maybe even millions of people need clear drinking water every day… In April 2009 I visited a Christian non-profit organization in South Carolina – Water Missions International (WMI). What a wonderful solution WMI has for this water challenge!

The Living Water™ Treatment System (LWTS™) is essentially a miniature water treatment plant.  Like many municipal treatment facilities in developed countries, this unit relies on filtration and chemical disinfection for production of safe drinking water. LWTS even can run on energy generated by a solar panel on top of it… For a country like Haiti this is a wonderful thing. Also, I’ve been dreaming about putting LWTS on our BUV so that one could drive almost anywhere and reach the most remote communities in countries like Haiti. That would be so wonderful!


Haiti earthquake, disaster relief, and basic transportation

Haiti… Terrible earthquake… Nobody can be indifferent to the large scale devastation of this country. A disaster of such a magnitude brings so many thoughts on how all the relief agencies can improve their performance and outreach in Haiti. The biggest challenge any disaster brings is access to medical help, water, food, fuel, and urgent supply of equipment. What about transportation? If roads are destroyed or severely damaged, regular vehicles will not be very helpful and efficient… Unfortunately! So I am thinking how we can share wisdom we have at Institute for Affordable Transportation about basic transportation and poor (damaged) infrastructure. We do believe that Haiti relief agencies will benefit from BUV both short- and long-term.


One Tribe - Overland Missions Conference

The BUV Ministry exhibited with a display and a BUV at the One Tribe year-end conference at Bethel World Outreach Center on December 29th until mid-night on December 31st.  What a way to bring in the new year!  Click HERE to learn more about Overland Missions that is:  “Committed to every tribe, tongue, and nation in the uttermost parts of the earth to bring the gospel, humanitarian care and economic opportunities, to save and empower lives.”  Many came by to see the BUV and gain more information about how we aim to accomplish our mission as we work with our Partners (participating organizations like Overland Missions).  We discussed how they could use the BUV as a light tractor with their SAM Projects (Sustainability Through Agriculture and Micro-Enterprises) which is a mechanism to train, educate and implement sustainability to rural villages with gardens with drip irrigation and tree planting projects.  The BUV could be utilized with their LIFE Projects ( Living in Family Environments) which is their response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, malaria and other diseases.  The potential of seeing the BUVs utilized in several countries is great if Overland Missions chooses to use BUVs with their Sectors in their long-term initiative to carry the gospel to neglected regions of the earth to reach those who exist outside the access of governments and the Church.  We sold the display BUV to Bethel World Outreach Center for a church building mission trip to Jamaica in March.  The BUV Ministry is seeking similar opportunities to exhibit in this way in 2010.   

Agriculture: Africa's 'engine for growth' and small-scale farmers

While surfing the net, I’ve found an interesting resource about agriculture in Africa. United Nations (UN) web site cross-references this article from Africa Recovery, Vol.17 #4 (January 2004), page 13. After decades of economic stagnation and with the number of chronically malnourished people now reaching 200 million, Africa's leaders are intensifying efforts to find “sustainable solutions” to hunger and poverty. The article elaborates on building on local successes, describes why African continent is in crisis, suggests how farmers can boost yields, and mentions that roads and appropriate technology play such a critical role in community development. Please take a read and think how technology available in the USA and Europe like BUV may help Africa grow. 


Business as Mission (BAM) in West Africa: Guinea-Bissau and cashew nuts

While surfing the net for interesting business projects in developing countries, I’ve found a reference to the Business as Mission team at JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service) and how excited these people are about opportunities in Guinea-Bissau.


Aside from a micro-finance program and agricultural development programs, JAARS people are considering a processing plant for cashew nuts—a cash crop in the country. Cashew nuts grow attached to a pear-like fruit that is often discarded. That fruit is a possible source of ethanol, a biodiesel fuel needed for boats. These businesses will provide employment and additional income to pay center employees’ salaries.


No doubt that for any agricultural program and especially a plant for cashew nuts, local entrepreneurs will face a transportation challenge: how to bring cashew crops to a facility and then deliver these nuts to a market place. A low cost, effective utility vehicle like BUV may help meet these needs. Also, BUV utilization will create additional source of revenue as these vehicles may be used for delivering goods and construction materials for local communities. As JAARS’ web site says, “Through building economic sustainability in the community, the Church will also gain relevance in the eyes of people, drawing more people to Christ in the process.” Very true!


Utility vehicles: how do different UVs measure up?

Cross an ATV with a golf cart and you come up with the hottest 4-wheel vehicle trend in the farm market today. Utility vehicles (UVs) mix the comfort of a cushy golf cart with the power of an ATV. UV buyers like the comfort of sliding into a seat instead of slinging a leg over the top, as with an ATV.


But how do these UVs perform? For the Farm Industry News ATV Rodeo, held August 21 and 22 in Le Sueur, MN, eight manufacturers brought their latest models of UVs for the 10 test drivers to try. The drivers put the UVs through an informal evaluation, driving them on the ATV course when time allowed. They offered comments about each vehicle's comfort, handling, power and maintenance. Overall, the drivers were surprised by the lack of speed and power of many of the UVs. Unfortunately, most UVs are designed that way. UVs not exceeding 25 hp and 25 mph are classified as non-road vehicles and are exempt from emission standards. Only the Polaris Ranger exceeds those specifications.

What about Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV)? So far, it has not been marketed in the USA. I think that with all its specifications, efficiency, VERY reasonable price tag, and payload of 1,200 lbs it can be one of the best UVs available for North American market. Just a thought…


Ambulance in developing countries: how many women’s lives can we SAVE?

According to United Nations (UN) News Center, over 500,000 women die unnecessarily every year due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth, with 99 per cent of those deaths occurring in developing countries, according to a new report released on September 19, 2008 by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Progress for Children: a report card on maternal mortality” shows that the worst regions in which to give birth are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which together account for 84 per cent of maternal deaths.

UNICEF emphasized that most maternal deaths are avoidable. But poor road conditions and long distances to hospitals or medical centers do prevent pregnant women from receiving professional medical help on time. Is there a good and affordable solution to the challenge? Luckily, there is one. BUV is a vehicle designed for the rural geography of developing countries. It is a simple, low-cost, low- weight vehicle that is easy to operate, maintain, and repair. I have no doubt that many lives of women and their children can be saved by simply helping them get to a hospital on time. Also, in comparison to bicycle or motorcycle ambulances, BUV can be used not only as ambulance, but able to serve the vital needs of a community such as transporting construction materials, hauling food and water.

“Saving mothers’ lives is not only a moral imperative, but a sound investment that benefits their children, their families, their communities and their countries,” said Tessa Wardlaw, UNICEF’s Chief of Statistics and Monitoring.


Agriculture and green revolution in Africa: opportunities and challenges

The Rockefeller Foundation published an article on the African-led Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which  is a dynamic partnership working across the continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.


Africa has the singular and tragic distinction of being the only place in the world where overall food security and livelihoods are deteriorating. Over the last 15 years, the number of Africans living below the poverty line ($1/day) has increased by 50 percent, and it is estimated that one-third of the continent’s population suffers from hunger. In the past five years alone, the number of underweight children in Africa has risen by about 12 percent. A root cause of this entrenched and deepening poverty is the fact that millions of small-scale farmers—the majority of them women working farms smaller than one hectare—cannot grow and sell enough food to sustain their families, their communities, or their countries.


World hunger, West Africa, and local farmers’ land

Is outside investors always a good thing in Africa? According to a recent article at Mali has approved long-term leases for outside investors to help develop more than 160,000 hectares of land, but local farmers say they fear being squeezed out by large-scale agro businesses.

The government argues the country cannot develop its agricultural potential without foreign investment. But local farmers say that they will no longer have land to cultivate and will be forced to work for industrial agriculture producers. One of the governmental concerns is that to modernize agriculture they cannot give a tractor to a small producer who would use it on two or three hectares; that would be a waste. By the way, one of the possible solutions may be an affordable, easy to maintain and operate utility vehicle like BUV. Such a vehicle can support small scale farmers allowing local communities not to worry about utilization of expensive and not so effective large scale agricultural equipment. Just a thought…


BUV Goes to SEMA Show in Las Vegas

BUV Ministry had the privilege of being the only public charity to exhibit at the premier automotive trade event in the world -- the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Ron Lively and Board Member Mike Pratt promoted the BUV as a "vehicle for transformation" to thousands of attendees and secured several new suppliers who donated parts which will lower our cost of production.  Both worked with international representatives and sold two units for an orphanage in Kenya.  One post-convention development are some possible BUV projects in the Congo.

Ambulance and women dying during pregnancy in Sudan: is there a better solution?

Many NGOs and international aid agencies like the UN children's fund (Unicef) sooner or later realize that one of the biggest hurdles in promoting health care in remote areas of Africa is the absence of an ambulance. Also, even if there is an ambulance, poor road conditions prevent medical personnel from reaching many cities and villages in Africa. BBC News website reports that in Sudan a woman has a one-in-six chance of dying during pregnancy during the course of her lifetime, according to the United Nations. What is the solution? Unicef suggests having a motorbike ambulance. The sidecar bed has padded cushions and powerful suspension to cope with Sudan's rough roads. The patient can lie flat, with seat belts to strap them in, but there is also space for a health worker to support the woman too, if needed. What is the cost? The price tag is $6,000 (£4,100). It’s a good start to cut down the numbers of women dying. Yet I think that a simple, low-cost, low-weight vehicle that is easy to operate, maintain, and repair – like a BUV – is a better solution long-term. With a price tag of $3,500 to $5,000 depending on options and designed for rugged terrain, BUVs are able to not only transport the sick, but also serve other vital needs of a community such as hauling food, water, and construction materials. BUV might be a better and cheaper long-term ambulance solution for Africa… Just a thought…


Empower entrepreneurs, build businesses, and transform lives in developing countries

TechnoServe is an interesting NGO which helps entrepreneurial men and women in poor areas of the developing world to build businesses that create income, opportunity and economic growth for their families, their communities and their countries. TechnoServe's entrepreneurship development and training programs help enterprising men and women develop the skills and resources they need to launch or expand businesses, while fostering a broader culture of entrepreneurship. Interestingly enough, TechnoServe in Mozambique had developed and tested a model for biodiesel production from coconut oil. Also, they are investigating the feasibility of using jatropha (a plant that grows well on marginal land that is unsuitable for food production) and other feedstocks for biofuels production and are currently running a jatropha pilot program in Guatemala. Biodiesel will fuel not only a low-cost utility vehicle like BUV and other transport, but also will create new industry and multiple employment opportunities for local poor.



Village Level Transport by John Howe

Good paper reviewing village level transport in Africa.  Studies indicated that village pedestrian based transport activities could take up a huge proportion of the active working day. Women particularly had to shoulder the main burden of village life; it was common to find many women spending over two hours per day collecting water firewood and travelling to and from the grinding mill.

Quadruple bottom line and microenterprise development in developing countries

AID for TRADE - The Christian Microenterprise Network from the United Kingdom links missions, charity agencies, churches and individuals supporting the vision to help income generation in developing countries. I’d say this resource will be a wonderful destination for Business as Mission minded entrepreneurs both in developed and developing worlds. If one would like to start his or her own income generating enterprise or wants to try and help others do this, then this web site will be very helpful. AID for TRADE supports the principles of equal opportunities, fair trade, organic food production, environmental technology, high integrity, health and safety at work. Also, AID for TRADE recommends quadruple bottom line (profit, community welfare, environmental protection, and spiritual awareness). A low-cost transportation will be very helpful to boost productivity for many income generating projects listed on this web site.


Women's farming in Africa, donkey power, and low-cost utility vehicle

It is well known that women in developing countries and especially in Africa provide for their families and communities. Many women are actively involved in farming. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, recently published an interesting report saying that women farmers in Africa need more donkeys to be more productive. But in this case almost every household will need a donkey. A low-cost utility vehicle may be a better solution due to its almost unlimited ability to serve local community and many households 24 hours a day.


Improving Rural Mobility - Options for Developing Motorized and Nonmotorized Transport in Rural Area

Improving Rural Mobility discusses options for creating an enabling environment to allow efficient and profitable rural transport and increased mobility for disadvantaged groups.

Community development projects in rural Africa and basic transportation

It’s so overwhelming to see how many physical and spiritual needs people have in local communities throughout urban and rural Africa. A friend of mine told me recently about African Leadership - a Christian education and development organization that trains pastors and church leaders in Africa and funds relief and development projects in their communities. Developmental project partners drill fresh water wells, build orphanage facilities and schools, operate job training centers and medical facilities, and organize youth sports programs. A basic low cost vehicle designed for rural Africa will be so helpful to speed up completion of the projects as well as to train local Christian youth valuable and marketable business and technical skills.

Local Transport Solutions - Lessons from IMT by Paul Starkey

A great paper presented by Paul Starkey to examine (i) factors accounting for the observed low use of intermediate means of transport in Sub-Saharan Africa compared with the rest of the world, especially Asia and (ii) to evolve strategies for addressing identified shortcomings

Transport for Development - World Bank Business Strategy

Great quote from the foreword of the World Bank Group's Transport for Development - "We know, for instance, that an estimated 75 percent of maternal deaths could be prevented through timely access to childbirth-related care, facilitated by transport."

Wasted Time - The Price of Poor Access by Geoff Edmonds

Excellent book by Geoff Edmonds about the development of a rural infrastructure planning process which uses access as the main parameter. Access is an important factor in rural development because its existence or absence defines the opportunity that rural people have to improve their social and economic well being.

Seed and produce delivery in rural Africa can improve food security

Akin Adesina, vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), talked to about the work of the young, Nairobi-based institution and how its priorities and programs are evolving to improve food security across Africa. Agra was founded in 2006, with initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bill Gates recently announced that the foundation will give another $15 million to enhance Agra's effectiveness.

Agra is going to put 40% of all the investment in core countries: Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana and Somalia. If Agra is able to get production up and reduce the price of food, it benefits both urban and rural consumers. But how seeds and crops will be delivered from the farms to the marketplace? If infrastructure is so poor in many countries in Africa, then lack of reliable transportation may hinder farmers in their efforts to deliver fresh produce to urban and rural communities. BUV can help face this challenge… Specifically designed for developing countries, this utility vehicle will provide much needed boost to agricultural productivity Agra is dreaming of.


Missionaries in Asia (India) transport evangelism equipment to hard-to-reach remote areas

Indigenous ministries are working to reach the hard-to-reach and the never reached. When they have begun a work in one of these remote areas, they return often to strengthen the new believers. Many times the only way to transport equipment and materials needed for evangelism is to rent a truck. Otherwise, they have to walk, carrying everything needed by hand. The costs for these rentals, or long distance trips by foot, greatly hinder their outreach. They would be able to cover more ground and work more effectively if they owned reliable transportation.

Christian Aid Mission reports help is needed in supplying many of the needed tools for evangelism in Asia. This kind of ministry could be greatly enhanced if they had a reliable means of transportation to reach those distant villages. Also, a cart would be helpful for moving equipment in places where driving is not possible. BUV is a great solution for such places as India. It would be such a blessing if we could partner with Christian Aid Mission donor’s to bring BUVs to Asia!


The World Bank on transportation challenges in Asia (Nepal): how Basic Utility Vehicle can help

The country of Nepal is an example of how poor roads and infrastructure can prevent a country from breaking the cycle of poverty. Nepal is a landlocked country with China to the North and India to the South. Because of its mainly mountainous terrain and difficult weather conditions, roads and aviation are the major modes of transportation in the country. The presence of railways is negligible, and urban transport services are few. The country uses India’s eastern port of Kolkata as its gateway to the sea.

According to a recent report from the World Bank, this South Asian country has many transportation challenges – from weak domestic resource mobilization to poor accessibility in the remote districts of the country. Southern part of Asia and Nepal in particular need a vehicle specifically designed for the rural geography with poor road conditions. The Basic Utility Vehicle is a simple, low cost, low weight vehicle, designed for rugged terrain and is able to serve the vital needs of a Nepalese community such as transporting people, hauling food and water, etc. Also, BUV’s will enable local people to earn a livelihood and generate income by delivering produce to market and transporting material. BUV is a good solution for transportation challenges in Southern Asia, outlined by the World Bank.


BUV and Business as Mission Concept

More and more Christian men and women in business have such a strong desire to help entrepreneurs in developing countries grow their existing businesses. But they want to do more than just improve the bottom line. Have your heard about Business as Mission (BAM) concept? One good place to stop by in the Internet is the Business as Mission Resource Center located in Thailand. The Center offers the “iBAM Course” preparing individuals and teams for successful business as mission initiatives.


Meet the Bill Gates of Ghana

I am so pleased to know that this young Ghanaian entrepreneur - Herman Chinery-Hesse – is building a thriving tech business in Ghana. His goal to spark an entrepreneurial revolution in Africa deserves the highest respect possible. And it is not only about his e-commerce ideas, but more about his ability to prove that one can run successful and profitable business in West Africa.


Africa can prosper the old-fashioned way—by earning it!

Africa, Africa, Africa… So many words and speeches were delivered and articles were published on the continent’s poverty, diseases, and lack of educated human capital. Also, we all know that all the efforts of the global community to provide financial and humanitarian aid to African nations were not that effective in helping local communities break the cycle of poverty.

Chinese wise man Lao Tzu once said: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Very true for Africa!  Last issue of World magazine featured a breathtaking article about a new brand of entrepreneurs and economists who say Africa can prosper the old-fashioned way—by earning it!


Social Enterprise Alliance

Learn about the largest gathering of Social Entrepreneurs in America - the Social Enterprise Summit 2010 - April 28-30 in San Francisco CA.

Colin Relef Young Voices Award

The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) announced the winners of the young voices awards to explore new thinking in rural transport. Visit the website to read their articles and get some fresh perspectives.

First Place Winner: Eric Fofiri - Cameroon: Focus: Analysis of rural transport in Cameroon

Second Place Winner: Thulani Muchiya - Zambia: Focus: Analysis of rural transport in Zambia

Third Place Winner: Adama D Coulibaly - Mali: Focus: The role of bicycles in milk collection in Sikasso, Mali


Transport Management in Africa

As the BUV Missions Institute continues to buildout its training and education program for our partners a great resource has been Transaids manual on Transport management. IAT's Blog As the founder of so beautifully stated IAT's Blog "Hundreds-of-millions of dollars are wasted each year on vehicles which break down" because a transport mangement system is not in place.

Poverty, Microfinancing, G-20, and BUV

I am constantly thinking on what challenges prevent local entrepreneurs in developing countries from growing their businesses. Can the G-20 governments and international organizations like International Finance Corporation help businessmen with new approaches to financial services for the poor? The Microfinance Gateway says that just a few days ago after having the summit in Pittsburgh, USA, G20 released the Final Communique on how to fight poverty. Great to see such an alignment among top 20 economies in the world in terms of breaking the cycle of poverty.


Transportation Needed to Deliver New HIV/AIDS Vaccine in Africa

Riders warned that if the new vaccine against HIV/AIDS that was released on September 24th is to fulfil its potential, it must be effective in sub-Saharan Africa which is home to over two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS.   However, the transportation infrastructure in this region is weak and not adequate to deliver this much needed vaccine successfully.


Ghana: IHI Project Fives Alive!

IHI Project Fives Alive! Ghana Project is an ambitious program working to assist Ghana in achieving a goal of reducing  mortality in children under the age of five by 60% by 2015.    The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is an independent not-for-profit organization helping to lead the improvement of health care throughout the world. 


Africa and Sierra Leone: No woman should die giving birth

By surfing the net and thinking about the cycle of poverty, I've found this very interesting article about maternal mortality in Africa, namely Sierra Leone. It is published on the web site of Amnesty International. It's hard to believe that thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth. Most die in their homes. Some die on the way to hospital... In Sierra Leone, less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.


Patient Capital

IAT's Blog

Take a look at this TED Video by Jacqueline Novogratz on another way to think about aid to developing countries.  She speaks to  'Patient' Capital and the need for private capital to find entrepreneurs on site in the developing world, fund them, teach them and push them to grow the business.  Business week provides a good resource for Patient Capital also.


Tata Nano - Cheapest car in the World

Manufactured in India the Tata Nano comes in at the unbelievable price point of $2500 beating out the Maruti 800 at $3900.  If only we could get these vehicles to handle the rugged African terrain we would be in luck!

Congrats to Hamblen High School

Great article on the hard work and success of Hamblen High school at the 2009 BUV Competition.  Fantastic job to all of you!

Blogging for Non-Profits

As we are rolling out the new site I came across a great article outlining the advantages of non-profit blogging.  More blog entries equals more traffic because the site  appears more relevant to google which in turn indexs your site higher...meaning more people will see your site while doing any searches related to business as missions, BAM, Africa outreach, Christian Missions rural transportation, etc…. Hopefully we can get the team and board...on board to contribute!

New Website

IAT launches new joomla-based website focusing on building a social community with IAT, our partners, and students. Kudos to Scott Farris our developer and Katelyn Dunn our summer intern copywriter.

Village Experience

Today the IAT staff took a lunch hour visit to The Village Experience, a shop near downtown Broad Ripple  that sells fair trade goods from developing nations.  The BUV ministry shares a common  goal with this organization because both care about stimulating the economy in third world countries.  Goods include scarves, jewelry, pottery, hats, purses, candles, and paintings. Also, a handmade soap display caught our eye because it is produced in Zambia, where several BUVs are serving.


A Note from Ron

Ron Lively is an IAT partner and founder of the Healthy Initiatives Ministry (H.I.M) based out of Nashville, TN.  Ron’s plan is to implement a BUV Delivery Service (BDS) Program with a Business Mission Institute (BMI)  that will increase sales and awareness of the long-term value of the basic utility vehicle. Also, the business institute will aim to empower young entrepreneurs in developing countries



From those of us at the Institute for Affordable Transportation, we’d like to welcome you to our first blog.  It is going to be a great opportunity to share the stories that are happening every day at the


Our Mission

The Institute for Affordable Transportation is a not-for-profit public charity devoted to improving the lives of the world's poor by providing simple, low-cost vehicles in order to facilitate community transformation.

Blog List

IAT's Blog

Social Edge - The ultimate Social Entrepreneur bloggers community

Africa Can - One of the more popular blogs sponsored by the World Bank

Missionary Blog Watch - Site dedicated to tracking the blogs of Christian missionaries

Africa's Moment - Magogodi Makhene helps create Africa's missing middle-class through business innovation.

Alyson in Africa - Princeton in Africa Fellow Alyson Zureick blogs on her year in Sierra Leone and the numerous grassroots initiatives for social change.

Engage In Uganda -Seventeen students from Northwestern University are spending the summer in Uganda to implement projects in microfinance and youth leadership.

From Tribeca To Tanzania Keely Stevenson wrote about her work with Acumen Fund in Tanzania, working on distribution of mosquito nets.

Unitus Microfinance Case Studies Unitus presents a series of case studies explaining how leading microfinance experts have tackled some of the most difficult social and economic problems in the developing world.

Skoll Foundation Blog - Skoll Foundation supports a number of social entrepreneurs


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Related Links

IAT's Blog

Transaid - non-profit focused on transport management for “not for profit” fleets of vehicles in developing countries

IFRTD - forum works to improve policies and practices in transport operations, infrastructure, access and service  for poor communities in developing countries.

Riders For Health - non-profit transport management group that deliver healthcare via motorcycles

Practical Action non-profit that works with poor communities in developing countries to develop appropriate technologies

World Bank's Transport Strategy - Business strategy for 2008-2012

Global Knowledge Partnership - partnership of global organizations, local policy-makers, experts and interested users sharing rural transport knowledge.

Int'l Bicycle Fund - Africa Bicycle & Sustainable Transport Advocacy Organizations

Transportation & Development Policy - Promotes environmentally sustainable and socially equitable transportation worldwide.

US Agency for Int'l Development

UN Econ and Social Commission - Latest news in the Transport Division of the UN