EASST supports Tajikistan in push to meet SDG mobility targets
The FIA Foundation’s partner, the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) has been working to promote road safety in Tajikistan through an integrated programmatic approach, which includes, assisting the development of Tajikistan’s first National Road Safety Strategy, enhancing technical capacity among road engineers, and media campaigns to promote increased use of seats belts and benefits of eco-driving. EASST works in Tajikistan along with their local partner, the Young Generation of Tajikistan (YGT).
EASST is currently assisting in developing a National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) in Tajikistan, following the country’s commitment to reducing road casualties under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Regional Road Safety Strategy endorsed by the governments in October 2016. The Tajikistan Ministry of Transport is taking the lead in preparing the new Strategy, with the involvement of all key stakeholders. The draft strategy covers all five pillars of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, and is currently being reviewed with a view to agreeing a final text this summer in time for the CAREC Ministerial Meeting in late October 2017.
In June, EASST also supported a training event focused on Road Safety Audits sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Dushanbe. Given that local road design practices are not always up to the required standard, safety audits of roads are vital in Tajikistan. The training workshop saw the participation of road engineers and designers from the State Road Administration, the Engineering Institute, Road Police and other agencies. The workshop also included site visits to the Dushanbe-Qurghonteppa corridor road which is currently in its final design stage. The Road Safety Audits helped the teams of engineers to identify faults in the road design that needed to be rectified. EASST and the YGT have been working with the ADB to ensure the safety concerns of the local communities– particularly children – is prioritised when roads are designed and constructed.
Working to promote road safety in Tajikistan necessitates understanding the Tajik context. Despite a relatively small number of registered motor vehicles (just 412,000 for a population of 8.5 million), Tajikistan suffers an estimated 18.8 fatalities per 100,000 population. Over two thirds of Tajikistan’s population is under the age of 30, but the demographic dividend is squandered with road traffic collisions, which is the leading cause of death amongst 15-29 year olds globally. The impact of road crashes on the country’s social and economic development is staggering, costing about $400 million annually. With its vehicle fleet growing exponentially, CO2 emissions are projected to increase by 80 per cent in Tajikistan by 2030 if left unaddressed.
Supported by the EBRD Special Shareholders Fund, in April 2017, EASST and YGT launched a new project focused on national media campaigns promoting seat belt wearing amongst young people in Dushanbe and promoting the benefits of eco driving. Initial data gathered from the YGT’s observational survey of 5,150 private cars in Dushanbe found the average rate of seat belt wearing to be just 12.9 per cent! EASST and YGT have now carried out focus groups to understand the reasons for these low wearing rates, particularly amongst young people. The focus group discussions have provided vital information to underpin three targeted national media campaigns to be launched in August and aired over the following five months. The focus group also revealed a lack of awareness on the benefits of eco-driving, which the campaign hopes to promote.
To build momentum for the campaign, in June EASST Director Emma MacLennan spoke to the staff of the National Technical University of Tajikistan at a special road safety awareness conference, attended by road police, public transport providers and Mayor’s office. The University is hoping to provide new road safety courses in their institution and will play a key role in supporting the local campaigns.