Our monthly columnist Brian Mwebaze is back with another column focusing on the impact of road safety initiatives and a systematic underfunding of the cause. His column brings attention to the fact that youth are still the biggest effected group in terms of road traffic deaths and must be part of the solution in combating these statistics.
Every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. Nine in ten casualties occur in developing countries, many are children. In fact, if you’re aged 15-29, living in developing countries, you have the highest chance of dying by a road traffic crash than any other situation your brain RAM (Random Access Memory) can process.
But wait a minute; shouldn’t this be an opportunity in addressing this public health concern? What about getting these young people to become leaders and take control of the situation within their hoods? Yes, there is something being done already! Earlier this year, YOURS in an innovative cup, appointed first ever Road Safety Youth Champions initiative with an aim to challenge young road safety leaders to be a key force in raising awareness of road safety from community level, district level, regional level, country and global level. Since then they’ve particularly played a Ronaldhinho-role in promoting #SaveKidsLives campaign as well as influencing National Road Safety Policies at Country level. More here.
Perhaps, these unsung heroes deserve gold medals similar to those USAIN BOLT and Kenya is picking in Beijing 2015? In Uganda Macklean, Imelda & Carol are 3 University Girls Challenging their peers on most Road Safety myths, In Kenya, a 16 yr old Tabitha Muthina Kavisu is designing and distributing road safety messages amongst her peers. In Tanzania, Ahmed Salim volunteers to help kids cross to and from school every day. In Liberia, Doe Jacob is pushing the government for passage of the road safety commission.
But there is a challenge faced by these young and passionate superstars as they implement these innovations:-something that reminds me of Lucy Gower “Innovation isn’t about green bean bags and whacky idea sessions – it’s a long term business development strategy”.
We must ensure that young people don't lose their enthusiasm because of a lack of support.
Perhaps, Rt. Hon. Lord Robertson, Patron, Road Safety Fund correctly identifies this challenge when he notes “Road crashes are the biggest killer of boys and young men worldwide. Yet global road safety is seriously under-funded”
As unsurprising as a chameleon, road safety interventions are normally regarded as a key responsibility of our governments and are financed through the budgets of concerned public sector agencies. But as we know, EVERYONE has a role play, from CSOs to the Local council chairman at village level.
Following the launch of the World report on road traffic injury prevention and subsequent United Nations and World Health Assembly resolutions related to the "global road safety crisis", a number of funding opportunities have been established to support governments, road safety organizations and nongovernmental organizations implement the recommendations of the world report and, since 2011, implement plans for the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020).
Initiatives like the World Bank's Global Road Safety Facility, FIA’s Road Safety Fund & Bloomberg Philanthropies have helped to raise donations from the corporate, philanthropic sectors, and the public, to support injury prevention programs and road safety advocacy around the world. But none of them is specific on mainstreaming it’s funding to local, young leaders in road safety:-something that the forthcoming 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety, Brasilia, 18-19 November 2015 should not miss to highlight.
Without establishing, secure and consistent funding for young people focused initiatives we just might (my word) not make significant road safety achievements amongst young people.
However, now that we will see a specific stand alone goal on road safety in the Sustainable Development Agenda, follow up is needed to ensure that this is backed up by the funding and the support of evidence based projects for young people and road safety.