Removing the Roadblocks to Safety Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport in Central Asia

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Members of the EASST team including its patron Lord Robertson and celebrity ambassador Nikki support the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety

Every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world’s roads. Road traffic collisions account for 1.3 million deaths annually and by 2030 are forecast to be the fifth leading cause of death globally at 2.4 million fatalities a year unless measures are taken. Over the last two decades, EASST’s founder, Emma MacLennan, has been a regular visitor to the beautiful and diverse region of Central Asia and its neighbouring countries – building a vast network of friends and professionals spanning from the west of Ukraine through to the bustling hub of the South Caucasus and extending as far as the eastern reaches of Siberia. As a result of her extensive travel, Emma felt that much more could be done to make transportation in the region safer, particularly regarding the high risk of road traffic collision and the dangers to pedestrians and children.

Keen to halt the trend of rising road fatalities in the region, Emma decided to take action to make road travel safer and in 2009 established the UK charity Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport. As a result of her efforts, a vibrant and effective network of road safety NGOs and activists has been developed which has been highly successful in implementing an array of legislative reforms to improve road safety and has resulted in this vital issue becoming an increasing focus for governments and members of the public.

The key to many of EASST’s successful activities is the forging of effective partnerships – locally, regionally and internationally – by uniting organisations, individuals and expertise across sectors to work towards the shared goal of casualty reduction and reducing road risk. An example of this is EASST’s ‘Safe Villages’ campaign in Azerbaijan. Following the success of this project in Ukraine, EASST and its local partner in Baku – the Hayat International Humanitarian Organization – developed a similar project along the regional roads of Azerbaijan funded by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This coalition of non-profit and private sector organisations worked together to raise
public awareness of road safety along certain regional roads identified for reconstruction by the EBRD. The campaign covered the Agjabadi, Barda, Beylagan, Bilasuvar and Imishli regions and focused specifically on the R18 and R42 roads. Road safety training and events for villagers were held and booklets, highvisibility materials such as reflective jackets, and reflective belts for farm animals were distributed among villagers with the aim to keep them visible and therefore safer.

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An EASST grant and mentoring has made possible the establishment of the first road safety NGO in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. The organisation called ‘Road Safety’ has been appointed to the new government Road Safety Commission chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and is successfully promoting road safety in cooperation with schools, universities, the traffic police, government ministries and international organisations. Recognised for their expertise, EASST partners from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been selected for a major EU project working across ten ‘Silk Road’ countries to promote best practice and raise awareness.

If you would like to know more about how EASST is promoting safe travel in the region please contact Julie@easst.co.uk and visit our website www.easst.co.uk

Similar work is being conducted in Tajikistan where EASST funding of its new local partner ‘Young Generation Tajikistan’ has enabled the training of young road safety advocates in Dushanbe focussing on 5 at-risk schools. This has increased awareness among children of the rules of the road by 14% during 2014-15 in the city’s Firdavsi district, the area with the highest road risk for young people. Early results show a decrease in the number of road injuries for the under 16s living in Firdavsi by 17 cases during Jan-March 2015 compared with the same quarter in 2014. EASST’s work in Tajikistan focuses too on the response to road traffic collisions and other emergencies, not purely the prevention of such incidents. EASST is a founding member of FIRE AID (www.fire-aid.org) – an association of UK organisations who deliver fire and rescue aid to communities lacking emergency rescue equipment, particularly tools to respond to road traffic collisions. In Tajikistan, EASST is part of the team working with the emergency services to improve their rescue capacity to respond to emergencies.

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