Road Safety in Africa - more data is needed: a focus on Kenya

Road Safety in Africa - more data is needed: a focus on Kenya

We know that road traffic injuries are the leading killer of young people globally and in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) the burden of road crashes on young lives is significantly higher compared to the rest of the world. However, we have seen a deficit of information, data and research into these parts of the world and so YOURS is gathering some of the available information and sharing it with our youth network. In our first focus, we look at Kenya in Africa and examine the health burden of road crashes in this part of the world.

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Information has been resourced from:
Abdulgafoor M. Bachani, Pranali Koradia, Hadley K. Herbert, Stephen Mogere, Daniel Akungah, Jackim Nyamari, Eric Osoro, William Maina & Kent A. Stevens (2012): Road Traffic Injuries in Kenya: The Health Burden and Risk Factors in Two Districts, Traffic Injury Prevention, 13:sup1, 24-30

Road traffic injuries (RTIs) are one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. In 2012, road crashes account for 1.3 milion deaths with millions more being injuried. In low and middle-income countries such as those in Africa (developing countries) it is estimated that over 200,000 deaths are in Africa alone creating a disproportionate burden on the continent compared to the rest of the world. In other words, Africa accounts for nearly a quarter of all deaths on the road. This fact is particularly shocking when we note that the region only has 2% of the world's roads. As LMICs in Africa develop and road infrastructure is enhanced, the number of vehicles as well as vehicle speeds are expected to increase, resulting in increased RTIs and fatality rates in these settings.

Kenya, for example, has seen a sharp increase in the number of registered motor vehicles over the past 2 decades. Motorcycle use in Kenya has also significantly increased over the last decade. A study conducted in Nairobi showed that in just 3 years, motorcycle registration rose from 4136 in 2004 to 16,293 in 2007.

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As infrastructure in Africa develops, the use of motor vehicles has increased.

This, in addition to other factors, has led to a historically high burden of RTIs in Kenya when looking at Africa as a whole. In addition to the mortality and disability burden, RTIs have a significant economic impact. In Kenya, a study published by Odero and colleagues in 2003 revealed that as of 1991, RTIs were estimated to cost Kenyans as much as US$3.8 billion annually, corresponding to 5 percent of the annual gross national product. This is, however, thought to be only part of the picture because it does not include costs associated with lost productivity and other related costs due to the years of life lost.

As our coordinator of the African Region (Anglophone) Ms Sheila Atieno in our CORE Group puts it, 'Deaths of young people in Africa is not only affecting the health of a whole generation but we are also loosing our workforce, this is not acceptable'.

One challenge facing road safety in Africa is the lack of data, research and comparative analysis on road traffic crashes and injuries. Though estimates quantifying the burden of RTIs in Kenya do exist, most of these studies date back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.There is therefore a very urgent need for more current estimates on the burden of RTIs in Kenya to accurately assess the scope and distribution of this burden such that interventions can be implemented to address it.

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Our Coordinator in Africa is a native of Kenya and her organization works to promote road safety amongst young Kenyans.

The above cited resource states that data from the Kenya traffic police revealed that over the 6 years, RTIs increased at an annual rate of 1 percent showing that vehicle passengers were the most affected by RTIs, accounting for almost half of all RTIs
reported between 2004 and 2009.  Notably, injuries to motorcyclists more than doubled. Analysis of the police data at the provincial level showed that though Nairobi saw the highest rate of RTIs and fatalities in the nation.

The study in Kenya  focused on disctricts of Thika and Naivasha and with an analysis key risk factors it found: Less than one third of drivers in Thika (30.37%) and Naivasha (21.29%) wore helmets whiledriving motorcycles, and there was also minimal usage of helmets by passengers in both districts. Reflective clothing usage shows a large disparity between the 2 districts: 24.85 percent of motorcycle drivers in Thika compared to 63.22 percent of drivers in Naivasha wore reflective clothing; this difference was statistically significant. Speed observational studies conducted in the Thika and Naivasha districts revealed overall speeding rates of 69.45 and 34.32 percent, respectively, in the 2 districts, and rates in Thika were almost twice as high as Naivasha.

spotlight on kenya yoursk
Read more about Youths for Road Safety Kenya in our Spotlight Series.

The analysis shows that RTIs and fatalities mostly affect males between the economically productive ages of 15 and 45 years.
These individuals are also often the heads of households, and their mortality could have potentially long-term implications on not only the financial sustainability of the family but also their social well-being. Furthermore, this analysis reveals that RTIs (and related fatalities) continue to increase in Kenya, with motorcyclists (both drivers and passengers) as well as pedestrians among the most affected.

YOURS will be running workshops in Kenya very soon to train facilitators on these topics. You can read about one of the leading organizations in Kenya working specifically on youth and road safety issues: Youths for Road Safety Kenya. You can read the full report in the attachments as well as see a video from Ms Sheila Atieno.



Kenya Report RSKenya Injuries


Spotlight On: Youths for Road Safety Kenya - grass roots and youth led