Every journey. Every child.
In 2016, 128 children were killed and 1754 injured by road traffic in Kyrgyzstan. In total, there were 1575 crashes involving children.
However, fatalities and injuries are just the visible results of a growing problem. There is another major hidden problem that road traffic brings to people. Air pollution. A recent global study has found that in 2015 6.5 million people died from air pollution related illness. It is an epidemic that causes substantial harm and suffering, especially among children.
As we know, motor vehicles are a major cause of air pollution. As the number of vehicles increases, more toxic emissions are produced. The number of registered vehicles in Kyrgyzstan is increasing rapidly, now exceeding 1 million. But what impact is this having?
- Every thousand vehicles emits more than 3 kilograms of carbon monoxide and other harmful substances a day;
- A single car produces 60 m3 of toxic gas an hour and a truck produces 120 m3;
- There are more than 170 harmful substances in a single working car, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons etc;
- In addition, petrol cars emit compounds of lead, chlorine, bromine and diesel cars emit a significant amount of soot;
- In Bishkek, high levels of mercury have been detected in Jibek-Jolu, L.Tolstoy, M. Gorkiy, and Sovetskaya streets where there is usually very heavy traffic.
All of this has a negative impact on public health. Child safety and the right to safe and healthy streets is now high on the agenda of many international organisations.
On 4-5 October 2017, the Global Child Health and Mobility Initiative brought together a host international stakeholders, including Road Safety Kyrgyzstan, EASST and the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, at the ‘Every Journey. Every Child’ conference in London. The aim was to inspire real, global measures that will save children and protect their health on every journey to school.
Opening the conference, Lord Robertson, Chairman of FIA Foundation, proclaimed that “300 million children live with dangerously toxic levels of air pollution, to which road traffic is a significant contributor. Every child has the right to healthy and safe environment”.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said that air pollution affects all 8.6 million of London’s citizens, including children. He warned that the next generation of Londoners are being exposed to tiny particles of toxic dust that are seriously damaging their lungs and shortening their life expectancy. He declared that serious measures would be taken from October 2017 including new buses and stricter controls over air pollution via the new T-Charge.
UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt also attended the conference and emphasised the importance of global partnership to tackle the problem.
Executive Director of UNICEF UK Mike Penrose spoke about the fact that for children under 5 years old, the main cause of death globally is respiratory tract infection – which is largely attributable to air pollution. For children over the age of 10, the number one cause of death globally is road traffic crashes. As such, UNICEF’s priority for the next decade will be incorporating road traffic considerations and environmental considerations into all of their programmes globally.
Many have recognised the efficiency of the safe system approach (safe transport, safe speed, safe infrastructure, and safe behavior) in terms of keeping children safe on the roads. And as a result, fatalities have dramatically decreased in many countries but more still needs to be done. As such, during the conference, the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety launched “Walking the Talk”, their new publication, which describes small steps taken by NGOs that lead to measurable results and save lives on the roads.
The conference also launched the global Declaration of Every Child’s Right to Safe and Healthy Streets. The Declaration consists of 6 articles:
- Every child has the right to use roads and streets without threat to life or health.
- Every child has the right to breathe clean air.
- Every child has the right to an education, without risk of injury.
- Every child has the right to explore their world in safety.
- Every child has the right to protection from violence.
- Every child has the right to be heard.
Road Safety Kyrgyzstan signed and adopted the Declaration at the conference, and calls everyone to do the same and take real action towards it.
 Open Kyrgyzstan – https://www.open.kg/about-kyrgyzstan/socio-economic-resources/science/environmental-science/page,2,322-zagryaznenie-atmosfery-i-ego-posledstviya.html