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Toys from reclaimed materials

Product analysis

This product analysis focuses on typical toy vehicles made by children in Ghana.

The market
Most of the children make the toy vehicles to play with themselves. Often they share them with younger brothers and sisters.

Product function
The wheels on the vehicles turn easily. They have an in-built suspension system due to the 'spring' in the steel, so they ride easily over the sandy, gravely surfaces.

The toy vehicles entertain the children, who play with them happily for hours. They are robust and last for years. When they are damaged, the children have the skills to repair them.

None of the materials used to make the toy vehicles are bought - all are reclaimed or recycled.

The children collect all the materials they need from home or on their way to school, as well as all the tools they think they might need. They do all the designing and planning in their heads before they start making the toys.

All the children aged 9 to 14 at the Sunrise School are able to complete a toy from scratch within two hours (most need much less time). The children tend to work independently, although they ask each other for help and share tools and materials freely.

The processes the children go through when making toy vehicles are sometimes hazardous and would not comply with health and safety regulations in the UK. Many of the final products have sharp edges that could cut clumsy hands. However, accidents rarely occur as the children are aware of the hazards from an early age and learn to treat the toys with care.

The children make vehicles in a variety of styles, from desert buggies to articulated lorries. They are designed in the children's imaginations but are largely modelled on, or influenced by, vehicles that they know. Most of the vehicles have large, wide wheels that are suitable to drive over the rough ground and look appropriately chunky. Some children decorate their vehicles to enhance their appearance.

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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