Donors in Dar advance road safety agenda
Major development donor agencies based in Tanzania have participated in a Policy and Donor Forum, convened by the Road Safety Fund to discuss ways to advance the road safety agenda in the country and wider region.
The Forum was opened by British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Dianna Melrose who delivered the keynote speech. Kevin Watkins, Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Chaired the Forum. It was the first time that such a wide range of major donors in Tanzania had gathered to discuss road safety. Among the organisations attending the Forum in Dar es Salaam were the UK Department for International Development (DFID), USAID, the European Union Delegation to Tanzania, the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The Forum was organised jointly by the Road Safety Fund and NGO partner Amend. The event brought together the international development donors with key national government agencies such as the Ministry of Transport, the Traffic Police, and the Ministry of Health. Delegates heard from NGOs, national and regional agencies active in the front line of road safety.
Amend has been engaging actively with donors, the national government and local agencies and partners in Tanzania on school infrastructure safety and education, and also on critical issues such as boda-boda motorcycle safety and in integrating road safety into road infrastructure projects generally.
Key Road Safety Fund supported initiatives represented and highlighted at the round table discussions included: the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative (GHVI) which has been active regionally in Uganda and Tanzania; Share the Road which is run in a partnership between the FIA Foundation and UNEP and promotes safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in Africa; iRAP which has been working extensively to provide road safety assessments across road networks in the region; and Safe Schools projects run by Amend.
Supported by the Road Safety Fund, Amend is working with local partners and schools to run 'Safe Schools' projects in Tanzania. These projects combine the introduction of safe road infrastructure around schools with road safety education. Across the region, road traffic injury is a leading cause of death for children and young people and the number one killer of men in their early twenties.
High Commissioner Melrose congratulated the Government of Tanzania on its work to create a new lead agency for road safety and encouraged donors, including DfID, to continue building upon their efforts to support the Government in tackling road traffic injury.
She said: “Just last week we saw an appalling bus crash in Kenya in which 41 people lost their lives. That accident made headlines around the world. But the WHO estimates that the same number of people is being killed on the roads here in Tanzania every two days.
“These accidents place a huge strain on overstretched health services. Poor people are particularly vulnerable. The loss of a breadwinner or ability to work can deny children the right to an education, accentuate poverty and act as a brake on economic development.”
The Global Burden of Disease 2010 published by the Lancet and funded by the Gates Foundation, shows that overall in Eastern Sub Saharan Africa road fatalities have increased by 62% and from the 13th leading cause to 9th between 1990-2010. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death for men aged 20-24 in this region. For Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, road deaths have increased by 84% over the GBD research period, to be 8th leading cause of death. It is a top 5 cause of death for young people aged 5-19. In Tanzania, GBD estimates road deaths have increased by 92% over the 20 year period, to be 10th leading cause of death overall. It is a leading cause of death for all age groups between 5-24.
Kevin Watkins, ODI Executive Director said: “Road traffic injuries have a huge impact on development – they act as a brake on progress. This is absolutely a poverty issue – people in countries like Tanzania and Kenya earning less than a dollar a day can on average face costs of $30 following a road traffic injury. One health episode as a result of a road crash will lock them into long term poverty. And we are facing a growing crisis. By 2015 road traffic injury will be the biggest killer in sub Saharan Africa for the 5-15 age group. Add to this the demographics: a 115 million increase in the 5-19 age group in Africa between now and 2025; and a move from rural to urban settlements with the continent the world’s most rapidly urbanising region. What we will see is that more children and young people will be put in harm’s way unless we tackle this and think about how to make roads safer for people rather than simply how to move goods faster from A to B.”
Saul Billingsley, Road Safety Fund Director said: “Tanzania has become a focal point and a priority for donor agencies. The country’s development is moving at an astonishingly rapid pace – in terms of urbanisation, the growth of infrastructure and services, efforts to tackle poverty and promote growth. It is encouraging that in this context, the major development donors are recognising the importance of road safety. This Forum provided an excellent opportunity for the donor agencies to convene, to share expertise, and to engage with the Government and NGOs. In particular, I would like to highlight the contribution of the Amend NGO which partnered with the Road Safety Fund in organising the Forum. Their work to implement ‘Safe Schools’ projects is making a vital contribution to improving safety for schoolchildren, saving young lives and helping improve access to education. We must now take this opportunity to move the agenda on, to scale up the commitments to tackle road traffic injury as a fully integrated part of mainstream development programmes.”
Following the Donor Forum, delegates visited the Mianzini Primary School which is one of the Safe Schools projects supported by the Road Safety Fund and implemented by Amend with local partners. The school hosted a handover ceremony for the new safe infrastructure interventions and delegates were shown the safety improvements including safe pavements, speed humps and traffic calming measures, and a relocation of the school gate separate from traffic. Road Safety Fund Director Saul Billingsley formally handed over the infrastructure to Director of Kinondoni Municipal Council, Engineer Mussa Natty. The Kinondoni Council has been a lead project partner with Amend. Also speaking at the ceremony was the mother of 8 year old Jennifer Pelezi who was killed crossing the road near the school. Mrs Pelezi said she hoped the introduction of safety measures would ensure that other families in the community would not have to suffer the loss of a child on the roads in future.
Visit Amend at: www.Amend.org