Between 2006 and 2016, recorded road deaths in Uganda rose from 2,547 to 3,503, representing a growth of 25.9% and meaning 24 people are killed for every 100 crashes on the roads. On average Uganda loses 10 people per day in road traffic collisions – the highest road death rate in East Africa.
The overall annual cost of road crashes is currently estimated at approximately UGX 4.4 trillion ($1.2billion), representing 5% of Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP).
One of the reasons behind this increasing danger is that road safety culture and attitudes in Uganda are declining to the detriment of road users’ safety. Leadership for road safety is generally weak, fewer resources are being allocated to road safety interventions, and commitment to road safety remains lower than is needed.
Reversing this growing tragedy will require key stakeholders in road safety such as fleet operators, other private sector organizations and civil society to step up their interest in developing and promoting community initiatives that can mitigate the challenges we face.
Advocacy for safer school zones – Uganda project
In Uganda’s capital city Kampala there is a need for scalable, sustainable and cost-effective projects in communities to address road safety. Every day, children travelling to and from school are being killed and injured in road crashes. Each of these deaths and injuries is an entirely preventable tragedy, and we have a duty to do all we can to make sure every child can move around safely and access education.
Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents (HOVITA) is trying to make a difference by piloting an evidence-based advocacy strategy for safer school zones in Uganda. The strategy, known as ‘Star Rating for Schools Global Application’ and developed by International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), is the first-ever systematic evidence-based approach for analyzing the risk in roads around schools.
The iRAP Star Rating for schools presents an investment plan focusing on simple infrastructure improvements that have been scientifically proven to reduce road risk. It is also intended to serve as a model to fleet organizations, schools and governments working to improve road safety in their own areas.
The Star Rating project is an easy-to-use universal application that can help communities quickly implement affordable road safety interventions. The project will map out risk areas around the schools and collect and analyze data that will help it assess the danger children are exposed to. The least safe roads are given a one-star rating, and the safest are given five stars.
These scores can then be used to suggest cost-effective infrastructure improvements to the government, which if implemented have the potential to raise the schools to the three-star minimum in one year. This will significantly contribute to saving lives of children in Uganda.
HOVITA is trialing the program in two Kampala schools (St. Peters Primary School Nsambya in Makindye division and Ntinda Primary School Nakawa Division), which will give it a combined reach of more than 5,000 children.
To truly make a difference to road safety in Uganda – and other countries around the world – we need further commitments from road safety stakeholders to follow these kinds of initiatives and lend their voices to the campaign. Fleet operators must show their support by helping pressure their own governments for much-needed road infrastructure improvements.