African Ministers urged to take action on road safety crisis
Ministers from across Africa joined Child Health Initiative global ambassador Zoleka Mandela and partners in launching a new report calling for action on child pedestrian safety continent-wide.
The joint report by the FIA Foundation, Amend NGO and Humanity & Inclusion, was launched at the 1st African Road Safety Forum in Marrakech on 13 November.
The report aimed particularly at French speaking countries in Africa outlines the high burden of child road traffic injury on the continent. A child is twice as likely to be killed in a road crash in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Child pedestrians, those living in poverty are particularly vulnerable. In response, priority should be placed on providing a safe journey to school particularly through safe road infrastructure, slowing traffic where child pedestrians are present, the report says. Governments and donors must step up their action, committing to this agenda as part of their programmes for child and adolescent health.
The report, titled ‘Un Grand Pas en Avant: Un programme d’action pour la sécurité piétonnière des enfants d’Afrique’ promotes ‘safe system’ solutions including safe infrastructure and speed management to keep children safe on the roads in a range of African countries including Burkina Faso, DRC and Senegal. It follows on from the ‘Step Change’ report promoting policy change and solutions for child pedestrian safety first developed in countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Ghana.
In a powerful opening speech at the Forum, Zoleka Mandela said: “I am a mother advocating for the safety of children following the tragic passing of my daughter who was killed by a drunk driver. As a mother standing here, I represent the thousands upon thousands of families who have suffered the scourge of road traffic injury.
“The roads on our continent are still the most dangerous in the world. All around us enforcement and implementation are inadequate. Our roads are unsafe. Each day, new roads are being built which lack basic safety measures. If there’s a crash, instead of being protected, you will be punished with a death sentence.
“Most unforgivable, millions of children are exposed every day on the roads. We fail to provide them with a safe journey to school. I would like Ministers, Mayors, heads of agencies here in Africa to look their own families in the eye and explain how keeping them safe is not a priority.”
Zoleka Mandela called for far greater action, commitment and funding to ensure children and young people are kept safe on the roads. One key step would be a global summit on adolescent health which the Child Health Initiative is calling for to ensure that Governments and international agencies address road traffic injury in their mainstream development policies.
Jean Todt, UN Special Envoy on Road Safety and FIA President gave a video address to the Forum. In his foreword to the ‘Un Grand Pas en Avant’ report, he said: “In Africa, a child is twice as likely to be killed in a road traffic crash than anywhere else on the planet. Unless governments take urgent and coordinated action on road safety, an explosion of the growing youth population in Africa, urbanisation and motorisation will have further fatal consequences. The burden of road traffic injury on the continent is a pressing and growing threat both to humanity and sustainable development. We must take action now.”
Also opening the 1st African Road Safety Forum alongside Zoleka Mandela were: Dr. Saad Elothmani Head of the Moroccan Government, Etienne Krug Director, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO; Franz Drees-Gross World Bank, Director of Transport; and Young Tae Kim International Transport Forum (ITF) Secretary General.
Ministers from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Gambia, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone as well as the opening speakers joined Zoleka Mandela, FIA Foundation Deputy Director Avi Silverman, Amend Executive Director Jeffrey Witte and Ndeye Awa Sarr President of African road safety NGO LASER International on stage to launch the new report.
Also launched at the Forum was the African Road Safety Observatory. The Observatory has been developed with grant support from the FIA Foundation via the FIA, together with the ITF and the World Bank. The ITF/OECD International Road Traffic Accident Database (IRTAD) has played an important advisory role in its creation. The Observatory, which is based on similar bodies in other regions including Europe and Latin America, aims to address the weakness of road safety data across the continent. It will convene governments to share and benchmark road traffic injury data and other indicators.