Road safety around schools in Dushanbe made a priority
The need for safer roads in Dushanbe
More than 90 per cent of road deaths globally occur in low and middle-income countries. Tajikistan, as the poorest country in Central Asia, is keenly aware of the impact of road traffic crashes on the lives of its citizens.
In 2016 alone there were over 1300 road crashes, which killed 427 people and seriously injured over three times more. In a country whose population amounts only to eight million, this is a highly disproportionate toll. With more than 70 per cent of the population under the age of 30, road crashes in Tajikistan pose a serious threat to the country’s social and economic development.
Indeed, every fourth person injured in a road crash in 2016 was a child or teenager under the age of 16. Seventy-seven per cent of these incidents occurred when they were walking down the street or crossing the road – mainly on their way to or from school.
Peer learning and youth activism sees safer roads
To improve road safety in Dushanbe, therefore, EASST partners, the Young Generation of Tajikistan (YGT), have been implementing a unique project aimed at reducing child road deaths and injury in the capital’s most hazardous areas.
The project has involved using the EASST Road Safety Education Pack to train groups of Young Road Inspectors to act as ambassadors for road safety in selected ‘at-risk’ schools in the districts of Firdavsi and Sino.
Pupils selected as Young Road Inspectors, along with teachers, in each school are taken through a two-day road safety train the trainers programme using the Education Pack. The teachers then mentor the Road Inspectors as they implement their own Work Plan to improve road safety around their school. This involves training their fellow pupils on the importance of road safety, with more than 2500 young people being trained by their peers this year, as well as initiating and managing their own road safety campaigns.
The peer-learning scheme has been highly effective with road safety awareness increasing by 90% amongst young people in the pilot schools since 2014. Each year the project has also seen improved baseline knowledge amongst the new Young Road Inspectors being trained.
This year the Young Road Inspectors from the Sino district also got involved in the global #thisismystreet campaign, which focused on children reclaiming the right to use their streets safely, and working with UN Volunteers to raise awareness amongst drivers on the impact of speeding around schools. The campaign included the installation of billboards on main routes around the city warning drivers to slow down, as well as handing out flyers to passers by.
Inter-sectorial cooperation for a safer system
In addition to their Young Road Inspectors programme, the YGT have also organised an Inter-sectorial Working Group made up of state agencies and local schools to look at improving road safety in terms of installing safer infrastructure and ensuring better enforcement of road traffic legislation around schools. Since meeting last month, the Working Group have developed a joint action plan to eliminate or mitigate risk factors and barriers to safety around schools in Dushanbe and have agreed to make road safety their top priority this year.
As a result of the YGT’s work, a number of state agencies, including the Ministry of Education and the Traffic Police are now keen to work with the YGT to improve road safety in and around schools and roll out the Young Road Inspectors programme on a city-wide scale. With this impressive level of progress we look forward to seeing what can be achieved in the next year.