On 2nd July 2014, as part of the ‘Safe Villages Azerbaijan’ project, a road safety seminar was held in Baku organised by EASST and its partner HAYAT NGO together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).  The seminar was attended by EASST Chair Lord Dubs, government officials, road safety experts, international guests and private sector representatives and included discussions on combatting poor visibility, pedestrian safety, and the need for road safety education in schools.

The seminar involved representatives from government, private sector and road safety experts

The ‘Safe Villages Azerbaijan’ project is being carried out by HAYAT NGO and EASST with financial support from the EBRD.  It is a road safety campaign providing information on issues such as the importance of visibility on roads and the need to reduce speeding.  It has carried out training sessions with children and parents on safe routes and has donated high-visibility equipment and clothing to village residents.

Vusal Rajabli said: “Although road infrastructure and new roads are developing every year quite rapidly, it became harder to control vehicle speeds on these new roads. We need to act urgently to make sure those new roads often coming near or through the villages and towns are safe for all road users not just drivers but also for the most vulnerable – villagers, pedestrians, school children and farmers”.

The EBRD’s most recent investment in the road sector in Azerbaijan was a loan package of up US$750m for rehabilitation and upgrades of regional roads across the country. These upgrades will incorporate recommendations from road safety audits and will include safety signage, appropriate speed limits and safer pedestrian crossings. “We are very happy to play a role in this important campaign that complements our investments in the road sector which also aim to help reduce road traffic accidents,” said Neil McKain, Head of the EBRD office in Baku.

The project has been sponsored by the EBRD

The seminar was also attended by a senior representative of the Ministry of Transport, Mr Javid Najafov, who spoke of the ongoing reforms in the road transport industry and future plans. Mr Najafov stressed the key role of international financial institutions such as the EBRD in financing infrastructure projects all over the country and said that “providing roads with the necessary road signage and road safety components along with raising awareness levels of people in rural areas are very important measures in this field”. He praised ‘Safe Villages Project’ for addressing these issues. 

“Every year nearly 1,200 people die and 3,000 people are injured in road collisions in Azerbaijan and that leads to other problems in our society. These figures make us think and now we can notice some improvements in drivers and pedestrians behavior on the roads. The State will provide all necessary assistance to the NGOs in order to support road safety projects,” noted Chairman of the Social Policy Committee of the Parliament, Mr Hadi Radjabli.

Chief of Public Relations Department of the State Traffic Police, Mr. Kamran Aliyev, spoke about the role of NGOs, particularly HAYAT NGO, commenting that as a result of public awareness campaigns the number of incidents involving young children has reduced. “But this is not enough. We should continue our cooperation with NGO sector in order to achieve safer roads in Azerbaijan,” noted Mr Aliyev.

Representative of the EBRD Baku Office, Ms Aytan Rüstəmova, stressed the importance of the ‘Safe Villages’ project, which aims to help to reduce road accidents on regional roads of the country. She stated that as one of the major development institutions, EBRD are always pleased to support such projects.

EASST’s Dmitry Sambuk donates road safety games to Vusal Rajabli of HAYAT NGO

Lord Dubs, Chairman of EASST and Member of the House of Lords of the UK Parliament, spoke at the event and noted his appreciation of the activity conducted by local NGOs in the field of road safety. Among other international speakers of the seminar were Mr Jacob Bangsgaard, Director General of the FIA Region I and Dmitry Sambuk, Director of Development and Education of EASST. They spoke about tools to improve road safety and their experience of other initiatives.

Dmitry Sambuk from EASST said: “It’s good that today here at this seminar we have many stakeholders involved in road safety in the county and we can promote ‘Safe Villages’ with hope that there will be more support maybe from the private sector in near future for such projects to be continued across the country.”

At the end of the seminar EASST presented a donation to HAYAT of some road safety board games and puppets for schools provided from the UK by the Children’s Traffic Club and Ten Alps Communicate.

The activities of the ‘Safe villages Azerbaijan’ campaign financed by the EBRD and carried out by EASST together with HAYAT NGO has been held in 5 villages of Azerbaijan located in Aghjabedi, Barda, Beylagan, Bilasuvar and Imishli regions and covered both school children and adults. Villagers were provided with high visibility materials such as reflective vests, reflective collars for animals, pendants for children’s school bag and many other educational materials. Media Coverage can be viewed here: