Road traffic injury is the world’s leading cause of death for children and adolescents over the age of 10. In Tajikistan school-aged children account for around 20 per cent of those injured on the road and make up just under one third of the population.
In order to make roads safer for children traveling to and from school everyday as well as other vulnerable road users, EASST partner, the Young Generation of Tajikistan (YGT) have launched a ‘Safe Villages’ campaign to promote road safety in five villages in the Zarafshan Valley along the Ayni-Pendjikent-Uzbekistan border. The campaign coincides with the development of the A377 highway, which runs through the region and is supported by the Ministry of Transport, Kocks Consult, Asian Development Bank, Ministry of Internal Affairs and EASST.
In July 2016, YGT undertook a scoping visit to the region along with Antony Pearce of Kocks Consult to conduct an initial road risk assessment around local schools and gain local support for the project from key authorities and stakeholders.
Surveying Road Risk around Schools
During the visit, YGT teamed up with local police to conduct a risk factor survey near a secondary school Penjikent. During the hour-long survey they found that 375 vehicles passed the area with an average speed of 74 km/h, despite the area having a 40km/h limit! The survey also highlighted a significant lack of infrastructure around the school, including an absence of road signs warning drivers of the school crossing and the presence of children as well as no signs indicating the appropriate speed limit for the area. The crosswalk itself was also faded and not easily visible for drivers.
Gaining Local Support
The results of the survey have proven an urgent need for action in the region. During the visit, the project team met with local authorities (including representatives from the department of education) and traffic police across the region who all expressed their support and commitment to the project, in addition to approving joint plans to install billboards with social advertising on traffic safety in each of the villages.
Anthony Pearce also had the chance to lead a ‘Discussion Club’ on the theme of road safety which was organised by YGT in collaboration with the “American Corner” of Penjikent. He spoke about the road safety situation in Tajikistan and across the world more generally as well as sharing ideas on improving road security in the region. After the talk, a number of attendees even volunteered to carry out information campaigns reducing speeding among young drivers.
Over the next few months the ‘Safe Villages’ campaign will provide road safety training to schoolteachers, village leaders and farmers while EASST’s new Education Pack, which has been translated into Tajik, will be used to teach children about keeping safe on the road in an age-appropriate way.
Agricultural workers will also be given high-visibility vests and an advertising campaign will be launched in Penjikent (the largest town in the region) aimed at young drivers to reduce speed.
As the project continues it is hoped to be used as an example for local road safety best practice which could be replicated across the country.