This month, our guest columnist Brian Mwebaze Kanaahe takes us to Nairobi Kenya where he talks to Esther Muiruri: a self anointed environment and climate change addict leading the Ride for Humanity Campaign and how it relates to youth and road safety in Kenya’s elections already in high definition mode.
Last month, May was THAT month where we celebrated (or better climax) the UN Global Road Safety Week. If you have not heard or done anything about it, STOP what you’re doing, Go to:http://www.unroadsafetyweek.org and get involved now! In a spine chilling BBC Report news more than 34 students were killed in #Arusha, #Tanzania when their bus crashed as they headed for an academic contest. Has anybody done anything to make sure this NEVER happens AGAIN? (Pause)
Right, so despite being on an international training on Water and Sanitation and Food Insecurity Programming run by the International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent in Nairobi, I came to learn about the Ride for Humanity Road Safety Youth Campaign, and yes you guessed rightly, I plunged myself into it consequently interviewing Esther. Read on:
Exactly, what is this Ride for Humanity madness?
Ride for Humanity, is an annual 10 km ride within Nairobi organized by the Kenya Red Cross Nairobi County Youth that aims at raising awareness on road safety and urban disasters. This year, the ride aim was to raise awareness on youth action on road safety and peace while reaching out to those in the dire need. The event was held on the 7th May 2017 under the theme of “SAFETY AND PEACE FOR EVERYONE” which is in line with the 2017 world Red Cross day theme of “Everywhere for Everyone”.
Umm, the Ride for Humanity Theme, how does it relate to the well being of youths here?
The theme communicated to the raising cases of traffic accidents at Nairobi County and in Kenya as well as raising concerns of internal conflicts and political temperatures ahead of the Kenya’s general election. The Ride was designed by young people and for young people to help address challenges that are faced by the largest demographic dividend of the youthful population in Nairobi and Kenya as a country. Many young people are often vulnerable to being used as destructive tools by politicians during electioneer periods; hence the need to urge the youth bulge to be agents of peace in their communities.
Aha, how does this campaign address the elections excitement especially crazy risk practices by youths on the road?
The ‘boda boda’ (motorbike) business has rapidly increased among young people in Nairobi and generally in Kenya. Lack of proper skills, knowledge on road safety and ignorance on safe riding information has contributed to increased road traffic victims caused by the Boda Boda riders and users. Moreover, lack of knowledge and ignorance of the general public that halts the implementation of the existing policies and guidelines to safe guard lives on the roads has contributed to the increased road traffic crashes.
Who showed up?
Ride for Humanity brought together over 100 riders from Superhero Bikers Club and Kenya Bikers Association, more than 20 cyclists from 1000 Rides, university students, community and members of the public making to over 400 participants riding and walking across the city sensitizing the public on road safety and peace as a way of indicating their commitment in upholding human dignity, promoting peace, reaching vulnerable communities and saving lives. The event was graced with key messages from the government agencies, private sector, youth initiatives and humanitarian organisations on the need for maintaining peaceful elections and following all the traffic rules and guidelines on the roads. In addition, safe riding demonstrations were conducted prior to the procession by both riders and cyclists.
How does this project fit in the bigger picture?
This project contributes to priority number one of the Sendai Framework of understanding disaster risk. This is based on the belief that disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment where such knowledge can be used for risk assessment, prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response. Hence ride for humanity addresses the key underlying risks posed by use of motorbikes and bicycles on the roads while advocating for peaceful communities. And ofcourse, the global UN road safety week which encourages all road users to #SlowDown.
What message do you have for other young leaders who want to do something about this road madness?
I have already received a lot of positive feedback from all over the world and many young leaders love the ride for humanity concept which they would like to implement in their own communities. Change starts with me and so does our individual actions. I encourage fellow youth leaders, community change makers and the entire world to aspire for positive change and work with their communities to develop sustainable solutions.
Young people continue to act within their hoods despite challenges. Road Traffic Crashes sadly continue to be the elading cause of death for young people globally, and supporting young people to address this same problem that affects them may as well be rated as a magic pill. Oh, wait, did I mention I participated in the #UNRSW #SlowDown?