:: Specific Design Brief

Carrying Equipment - further information


How do Paravets carry their equipment now?
Most use rucksacks strapped to their backs. These can be purchased locally for about 500Ksh (about 5). I bought a small version for 300Ksh. They are not specially made and have no compartments that can be used to separate different items. They do have pockets on the outside but these again are not purpose built and are used as best they can e.g. for small tablets, paper and pens, knives etc. The shopkeeper claims they are waterproof but the paravets wouldn't agree. Nor is the material very tough.
Inside the rucksack everything is packed haphazardly in a plastic bag and dumped in the rucksack. Although glass bottles are protected in a cardboard box, they are not easily held upright and so liquids can easily leak out. Syringes are kept in plastic bags with the needles kept separately in the plastic box in which they are bought.

Apparently some carry their equipment in boxes strapped to the back of their bikes but I didn't see any using that method. They did experiment with trailers but they didn't prove to be popular because of more punctures, often generated by children taking them into the fields to play.
The paravets reckon they can carry about 70 kilos on a good, flat road but most of the time 50 kilos is the maximum (the weight of a bag of cement). Women tend to carry less, averaging about 25 kilos.

What do they think is wrong with the current method?
They recognise it is completely haphazard. Daniel says, "Sometimes you get to another farm and look in your bag and think you must have left a vital piece of equipment behind because it's hidden by something else. There isn't really any sort of method in the way we pack things and we have to hunt around for whatever it is we need."

Nothing has been purpose designed or made. There are no separate compartments or pockets for different materials. There is nothing to protect glass bottles, nor plastic from being crushed. Falling isn't uncommon and the rucksack quite often takes the brunt of the weight. Leakage is a common problem. Paul's bag is stained by leaks from one of the solutions he uses.

The straps dig into the shoulders. There isn't any additional protection to prevent that. Nor is there anything to cushion the equipment from digging into the paravet's back. With a weight of 5 kilos, and for some as much as 7-8 kilos, that can be painful and very uncomfortable over a distance.
There is nothing to lock the drugs away. They may have to leave the rucksack somewhere whilst they go to treat an animal so there is nothing to stop innocent children tampering with the drugs.

One thing they often mention is the fact that they tend to combine business with other jobs. So they may well want to carry other things e.g. products bought from the market, as well as their equipment. They cannot put the two things together as they want to keep their equipment as clean as possible. Therefore a dual-purpose carrier would be advantageous. They sometimes want to carry another person on the rack of the bike. With a rucksack on their back, that is difficult.
The current backpacks are not usually waterproof. They may be made from canvas and can withstand showers but not heavy rain. Tablets can get wet, cotton wool soaked. Their records and reference papers also suffer.

What sorts of distance do they have to travel?
They each tend to have their own areas to cover, close to their own farms. However, sometimes they will travel into another area if they have already treated that person's animals before and they are trusted. The furthest they are likely to have to travel is about 10km and an average journey would be about 4-5km. They tend to make two journeys per day, one in the morning and another in the evening. During the rest of the day the animals are likely to be away from the farms grazing and the heat is so great that travelling is even more uncomfortable.

They learn about animals needing treatment by word of mouth. That is the traditional means of communication in the area. A child may pass on a message at school, a neighbour at a market or at a communal water point. Sometimes, a farmer who wants treatment urgently will ask a child or a neighbour to call on the paravet to deliver the message.
The number of visits they have to make per day varies from season to season though at the peak (June-July) they may be asked to make as many as five per day.

What would their ideal carrier be like?
cost ideally 700-800 Ksh though they would probably pay up to 1500 for something designed specifically for them and for which they saw obvious benefits
demand would be reasonable for something specific but if it was designed as a multi-purpose carrier it would sell better - there are paravets all over Kenya but the number is hundreds not thousands
something that catered for their domestic carrying purposes as well as their equipment needs
made from something light but tough - they don't want to add to the weight
waterproof on both inside for some compartments and outside
divided into compartments to carry different equipment easily
equipment should be readily accessible once they reach a farm - something that opened out to reveal all the contents
glass bottles should have extra protection in their pockets
should be capable of being locked
ideally fixed to the bicycle and balanced
not at the back so they could still carry a passenger
should include a space for a puncture repair kit and spare light bulbs
have a separate compartment for drugs
removable from bike complete
tear proof material to resist thorns etc at side of road
special place for a thermometer
pocket for record book, reference book, pens
if a back pack they would like greater comfort to stop straps and equipment digging in