Too young to die: FIA auto club leads Star Rating for Schools intervention in Botswana
FIA automobile club Emergency Assist 991 (EA991) in Botswana has launched a new project, ‘Safer Roads to Schools – Too Young to Die’, set to reduce child pedestrian injuries and deaths from road crashes.
Star Rating for Schools (SR4S) methodology will guide both interim, small infrastructure improvements as well as encourage long term sustainable investment in safety by the government of Botswana. To implement infrastructure improvements and demonstrate an impact of the approach EA991 identified three local schools where, additionally to engineering improvements, high quality road safety education and practical learning for pupils and teachers will be introduced.
The 12-month project is funded through the FIA Road Safety Grants Programme which provides support to all FIA members on the ground to meet the objectives of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. An annual grant of 1.2 million euro from the FIA Foundation enables clubs to address the road safety challenges and support the Decade of Action at the local level.
The official launch of ‘Safer Roads to Schools – Too Young to Die’ took place on the 26th June in Gaborone and was attended by SORSA, an implementing partner of the EA991, key local stakeholders such as Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Gaborone City Council, National Road Safety Committee, Department of Road Transport Safety, Traffic Police, Village Development Community, local schools, private sector and local media. Anais Aite, FIA Mobility Grants Coordinator, and Aggie Krasnolucka, Programmes Manager at the FIA Foundation, also joined the event.
Anais Aite said: “I’m delighted to join launch of this vital initiative and see how our grants will contribute to improving safety of children. Through the RS Grants Programme so far over 350 innovative road safety initiatives have been initiated in more than 95 countries and those included awareness campaigns, educational programmes and trainings, vulnerable road users' protection, events and workshops, road infrastructure safety information and vehicle inspection programmes. We look forward to seeing results of the intervention here in Gaborone and sharing this success with other clubs.”
The World Health Organization estimates that over 477 people are killed on Botswana’s roads each year, with child pedestrians among the highest-risk groups for road traffic injury. 231 lives of children were claimed by road crashes in the past 5 years while 787 and 2576 children had serious and minor injuries respectively. The EA991 efforts to address this crisis has already gained interest of the government and road safety community in Botswana. Following the launch, the EA991 were invited to brief all members of the National Road Safety Council on the initiative and received their endorsement and commitment to support.
Simon Modisaemang, Director of the EA991, said: “We are delighted to see such an uptake from our key road safety stakeholders here in Botswana and we continue to build meaningful partnerships like that to ensure scale up of the initiative. We know that our project utilises an evidence-based approach proven to save lives and combat road traffic injury in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and we will carry on advocating to see changes happening across the country.”
The project has now entered its second phase during which three schools – Mogoditshane, Itumeleng and Taung primary school - were rated according to the SR4S methodology that allows assessment of the level of safety around the schools and helps identify where safe road infrastructure is required. SR4S was designed by the International Road Safety Assessment Programme (iRAP) and their representative Rachel Nganwa also visited Botswana to train EA991 and SORSA on effective use of the SR4S, support data collection in the field and its appropriate interpretation. Assessed schools will receive improvements in readiness for children to come back after the holiday season. In addition to implementation of pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and safety barriers, each school will run activities for children to familiarise them with use of the new infrastructure. Road safety education will be continued through activities run by schools’ road safety clubs. The project will also utilise the Road Safety Education Pack developed by EASST, which is a teaching resource that provides activities to introduce road safety messages and behaviours to children.
FIA Foundation Programmes Manager Aggie Krasnolucka said: “We are pleased to see such interest and endorsement from local road safety stakeholders. The Safer Roads to Schools - Too Young to Die project maintains the momentum built by the recent launch of safe school infrastructure in the presence of the First Lady of Botswana, Neo Masisi, and Child Health Initiative Global Ambassador Zoleka Mandela. Road safety continues to be a grave public health and development issue in the region with children and young adults among the most vulnerable road users. We are keen to see that these projects inspire further action and eventually every child in Gaborone and in an entire country is provided with safe school journey.”