Brian's Column: Road safety actors in Africa must learn to dance and love!

Brian's Column: Road safety actors in Africa must learn to dance and love!

Our regular columnist Brian Bilal Mwebaze is back with another column this time addressing the fact that road safety actors, while doing great work in their own right, must start working together! In his words, road safety actors must learn to dance and love one another while working together for collaboration when attacking the five pillars of the road safety system. Read it here.

Read more Brian's Columns

Welcome to #BriansColumn for this September! Last month August was an action packed one which saw the #GRSPAfricaSummit2014. 3 Young Researchers from Developing Countries of (Uganda, Mali and Nigeria) participated in the GIN2014 conference in Australia where they decided to develop therapeutic guidelines specifically for developing countries. Now, you have the (lame) excuse why this article comes quite late….But wait, never late really.

banner top
Read more about the GIN Conference here.

But ofcourse! The key words of #RoadSafetyActors, #Dance, #Love, don’t need any clarifications, or do they? Nope, not at all. Road Safety, a field with physical, psychological, economical, biological, and socio-cultural impact doesn’t sound sexy at all to most donors, decision makers, individuals and communities compared to other fields. There are a zillion reasons why this is the case, but partly, thanks to social media, the South African Transport Minister summarizes exactly what could be the president of the problem.

While in a pre #GRSPAfricaSummit2014, The Minister tweeted the following twin tweets:

tweet brian

The tweets, support the UN Road Safety Collaboration Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 whose input from many partners after  an extensive consultation process through meetings and the Internet provided an overall framework for activities in categories or "pillars" of:

  • building road safety management capacity; improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks;
  • further developing the safety of vehicles;
  • enhancing the behavior of road users; and
  • improving post-crash care.

decade banner

Even if you were King Pharoah or Hercules or Albert Einstein for that matter, you wouldn’t probably do all these pillars alone! You need a hand from actors: But?

  • How many actors fall under each pillar in your local community, region, country or continent?
  • Do they know each other and each other’s work? When and how do they meet to harmonise interventions?
  • Even for institutions (NGOs, Schools, INGOS, CBOs, FBOs etc) who are taking lead roles in road safety activities at national level, how often do they plan internally together with other departments or directorates?

This leaves you tongue dropped thinking whether the already feeble resources are being spent for the right interventions or duplicating/triplicating/quadrupling and million-rupling each other’s activities.

safety silos
If we want to work well as a system, we need to avoid road safety silos (working only in our own teams/departments) and work together!

That magic pill which Malcolm Gladwell calls the Tipping Point that happens when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of flu is still missing . In the world of road safety, one would happily get the flu if he/she knew a way of getting it from you as well as knowing that actually, you have the flu there: So, we can partner together.

In a Zimbabwean Proverb, ‘If you are ugly you must either learn to dance or make love’, All road safety actors  Governments, international agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector, other stakeholders and individuals might need to ‘dance’ and ‘make love’ to each other, if real ground impact is to be felt. The Tipping point could as well be found in ‘knowing each other’ of all road safety stakeholders and we know what to do. Don’t we? Lest we successfully end knitting without a pattern.

Time to strengthen the African NGO Network on Road Safety as well as the African Youth Network on Road Safety.

Stay Safe, Creative and Innovative!


Read more Brian's Columns
Follow Brian on Twitter