Conference marks three years of road safety interventions in the West Kazakhstan Region

Kazakhstan, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

Earlier this month, we marked three years of road safety interventions in the West Kazakhstan Region at a conference organised by the Akimat (regional government) and EASST, with the support of Shell Kazakhstan, Eni, and local NGO Gauhar Zhol.

In 2019, supported by Shell and Eni, we signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Akimat to develop a five-year road safety strategy to reduce road casualties in the West Kazakhstan Region by 25% by 2025. The aim of the conference was to reflect on the lessons learned over the last three years, unite key stakeholders from across all sectors, and look forward to 2025 and what actions are needed to meet the ambitious target.

Opening the event in the city of Uralsk, Deputy Akim (leader) of the West Kazakhstan Region, Temirkhan Mendygaliev, emphasised the importance of the project:

“Road traffic crashes cause enormous damage to the region’s development and our community as a whole. Partnerships and joint efforts to improve road safety give us the opportunity to save lives on our roads, so there is a tremendous need to continue this partnership to reduce the number of road crashes.”

The region’s Road Safety Strategy 2020-25, developed in the first year of the project, is based on an integrated Safe System approach and focuses on 4 priority areas: safe roads, safe speed, safe road users, and safe vehicles.

To date, we have delivered training to traffic police, engineers, driving instructors, teachers, NGOs, media, and young people on the importance of road safety and their role in creating a safe system.

A key aspect of the project has been to ensure evidence-based interventions. We collected and mapped data to identify high risk roads and identify areas for improvement. From this, EASST partners, Urban Forum Kazakhstan, along with EASST Expertise consultants, Alastair Barlow and Tolga Imamoglu, conducted road safety audits at 16 road sections. Based on the audit reports, we upgraded 4 sites in Uralsk with financial support from the Safer Roads Foundation and a further 3 were upgraded through the city budget.

Community engagement, advocacy, and building the capacity of local civil society organisations has been important to making the project a success. Road safety interventions can only work with public and political support. Local NGO Gauhar Zhol have conducted public opinion surveys on speeding, seat belt use and child restraints, and implemented public awareness campaigns around these issues. They have also taken part in the UN-sponsored #StreetsForLife #Love30 campaign to raise awareness both at community and government level on the benefits of speed management and reducing speed limits.

Gauhar Zhol have used the EASST Road Safety Education Pack to introduce key road safety messages and behaviours to more than 25,000 school children. The Pack was delivered to schools across the region and more than 300 teachers where trained on how to use the Pack to deliver age-appropriate road safety education to children year after year.

The project is the first of its kind in Kazakhstan and is serving as an example for other regions on how road safety can be improved. The conference was a celebration of what has been achieved to date, but it also looked forward. Shell Kazakhstan, Eni, the Akimat of the West Kazakhstan Region, and EASST signed a new Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year to continue the collaboration until 2025. We will continue to build a safe system, including work around improving post-crash response and building people-centred transport systems.

Aigul Barmenkulova, Head of Corporate Relations at Shell Kazakhstan said:

“We pay special attention to road safety issues. This project is at the core of our Social Investments portfolio. For us, employees’ safety as well as that of our contractors and the local population is a top priority.”

Serik Tukupov, Strategy Coordinator in the Business Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement Department of Eni in Kazakhstan said:

“We are proud to be partner in a project that encourages conscious and safe behavior on the roads. Safety is not only a priority: it is the common value within our company. We appreciate the support given by the West Kazakhstan Region Akimat, local schools, police department, and all stakeholders to our joint project.”