EASST’s NGO network marks ten years of achievement
Spanning South East and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, with fourteen NGO partners, the Eastern Alliance for Safe & Sustainable Transport (EASST) has marked its tenth anniversary by publishing a new report and film documenting the organisation’s work fostering political commitment, policy change and technical capacity building.
Launched in 2009 with funding support from the FIA Foundation, EASST has grown into a significant network of NGOs and automobile clubs advocating for and implementing road safety programmes across a region which has experienced rapid motorisation and economic growth, but also continuing high levels of poverty and pockets of social inequality, and a road infrastructure network which is developing at a rate that is often outpacing the ability of road safety management and police enforcement institutions to effectively adapt.
As the report, ‘10 years of saving lives’, highlights, the EASST approach has been to focus on building home-grown expertise and fostering a strong civil society voice for road safety within countries which have experienced high rates of road traffic death and injury. In countries such as Armenia, Moldova and Georgia, EASST has identified, trained and supported young leaders who have risen to important roles within government, police or civil society, successfully leading the charge for policy change including seat belt and speed legislation that has contributed to saving many lives. A growing focus of EASST partners is on safe infrastructure and engineering, both on strategic networks (in partnership with EuroRAP and donors including the European Commission and the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development) and working with community leaders in cities, towns and villages affected by high speed traffic.
Many of the countries in which EASST works have faced major challenges of institutional dysfunction and corruption and the organisation has supported efforts to improve governance, for example working with the Moldovan traffic police on reform measures. Other activities have included developing and translating a child traffic education pack for use in schools; supporting the establishment of FIREAID, a charity which donates fire engines and ambulances, with training, from the UK to countries in the region (more than 200 fire engines and 2000 sets of breathing equipment have been donated); encouraging a re-balancing of urban policy priorities away from the private car, while addressing some of the downsides of public transport provision, such as safety, security and accessibility; and campaigning for gender equality in transport policymaking and outcomes.
Speaking at a celebratory dinner held in Crete during the 5th Global Meeting of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, Emma MacLennan, Founder and Director of EASST, said: “Looking back at the past ten years, I can speak for all EASST’s Trustees and staff in expressing our pride in what our partners have achieved. Our mission – to make road travel safer, greener and more sustainable for future generations – still faces major challenges, as described in our 10 years of saving lives impact report. But we have also seen some tremendous successes in each of our partner countries. Our objective of creating an active, regional network that feeds progress in road safety and gives strength to all its members has certainly been realised.”