Every young person you will meet in Africa has a story to tell about road safety. Some have been lucky, others have not. I belong to the former group in which case my father lost part of his vision in 2000-thanks to careless driving of a motorist. By then, I was an 11 year old about to sit for my Primary Leaving Examinations. If my the worst had fallen to my father, I practically got no idea where I or my family would be considering that Iam the first born in my family. And this is my intrinsic motivation within road safety issues-no one can take from me. My name is Brian Kanaahe Mwebaze from Uganda. I work with the Uganda Red Cross Society-Youth as a Public health consultant with undeniable interest in water and sanitation, youth reproductive health but most importantly, first aid and road safety. While I represent young people on a number of other platforms, I stand before you as the vice president to the African Youth Network on Road Safety. Before coming here, we held Skype meeting with our youth representatives on the continent-something that informs all of us here that African young people have not been taking the back seat since the launch of the decade of action (2011-2020). Previous speakers have shown the epidemiology of road accidents being the 2nd cause of mortalities in people aged 5-45. The problems with road accidents outcomes are not just physical, but social, economic and psychological, as you very well know. When one looks carefully at road traffic accident statistics, the DALYs & QALYs, Prevalence and Incidence of road traffic accidents, the most affected group of people, there is no doubt that Road Safety is Our (youths) Concern.
The road to African Youth Network On Road Safety
Our history dates back as 2007 during the World Youth Assembly where the Youth Declaration for Road Safety was formed. From the Assembly emerged a wish on the part of the 200 official delegates to create an international youth-led and youth-oriented NGO and this came to officially be known as YOURS (Youths for road safety) in 2010. YOURS has not rested either. It immediately set up a steering committee that would see their effects cascade to the rest of the world. They organized and supported the Road Safety Youth Conference that was held in Omar 19-21 February 2011. At the African level, YOURS also supported through the regional coordinator, the first African Youth Assembly on road safety that was held in Niamey, Niger, 7th-8th October 2011. In attendance were youths from 25 African states with one mission to form an umbrella of youth organizations in Africa that work in road safety. This was our birth day and place of birth.
Key objectives of the network
1) Provide support and leadership for road safety campaigns and initiatives within the Africa Region.
2) Demonstrate a concern for the number of road deaths occurring and a commitment to foster improvements.
3) Persuade various communities in Africa to accept a greater participatory role in road safety improvements.
4) Work with other organizations in providing road safety education/publicity and other road safety programmes.
Our stand so far
•Currently, we have 30 youth organizations from Africa and we are registering more-that I can assure you. Ladies and gentlemen, this shows that we are not just looking on. We have 25 youth representatives on some of the national road safety working groups of their respective countries in Africa .We work to ensure that that this network provides a better platform for road safety advocacy in Africa-a reason why we request decision makers to accept us get represented on the national working groups and work with us since we are grass root.
•While a number of approaches have been used while working with young people, we recommend having horizontal approach. As you will see on our membership fact file, we have youth organizations that deal with road safety, water and sanitation/environment, youth sexual and reproductive health. You will agree with us that all these topics are very much related-interplay of whom will greatly improve our road safety. Other youth organizations are registered with the private sector, they are media organizations among other platforms. Key areas of concern remain, the issues of capacity building, financing and partnerships potholes.
•Ladies and gentlemen, as we prepare for the plan of action, we need to remember that there are 2 types of youths: In school and Out of School youths. Both are very much vulnerable to road accidents. Real peer education approach on road safety has given us enough evidence to consider it and we call upon you to think about us on every pillar of the decade of action. Our design for our work follows the famous Haddon Matrix that circumnavigates around the pre-crash factors which include people (host), vehicles (agent) and the environment.
•We have organizations that are implementing school road safety programmes, community-led road safety programmes, agriculture, health education and health promotion, and research. There is no other arguably the most organized youth network that countries can work with except us.
As an organized network, young people in Africa can’t wait to hear about the outcomes of this conference. They are very hungry to be sure that we have been recognized and that our quest to improve road safety on our continent is very much alive. We are always eager to learn from you and improve. We greatly appreciate your wisdom and experience but request you to enable us make some outstanding contributions on an issue that greatly affect us.
Einstein Albert once said, ’We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’, which is very much in agreement with the UN SG’s recent remark, ‘Young people give us hope’. This hope could spark paradigm changes that will inevitably tip the road safety arena in a positive gradient-something the decade of action very much looks up to.
Thank you for your attention.