GENEVA, Apr 27 (IPS) – Crises may be a centuries-old phenomenon, but so is human resilience.
The high number of road deaths and life-changing injuries in the Global South is a crisis that affects millions of people every year. In 2018 alone – the year the UN Road Safety Fund was established – 1.3 million people died on the world’s roads and another 50 million were injured or disabled.
These figures are even more sobering in the context of multiple global crises that range from the coronavirus pandemic to the climate emergency, from the cost of living crisis to geopolitical conflicts. As daunting as the growing crises facing the world may be, the millions of lives and livelihoods lost in road crashes have made the Fund more determined than ever to continue mobilizing and coordinating effective responses to the needs very real in terms of road safety.
Recognizing the growing complexity of the world, the Fund has tackled the global challenge of road safety head-on. It has done so through a coordinated, multi-faceted approach that tackles the underlying cause of dangerous roads while tackling the interconnections with other global development crises.
As the only UN body solely dedicated to channeling resources and expertise to address the root cause of the crisis, preventing further loss of life is, and always will be, our ultimate goal.
How could this not be the case – given that traffic accidents claim the lives of around 3,700 people each day; the equivalent of losing a large passenger cruise ship at maximum capacity. Through annual calls for proposals, the Fund coordinates and funds projects that help to ensure that road safety is treated as the important public health issue that it is.
In Brazil, our project partner, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, worked with the Ministry of Transport to correct and improve speed control operations, including with the use of portable equipment on all highways in the State of Pará. The project has doubled breathalyzer tests to more than 78,000 carried out in 2022 and helped reduce the rate of road deaths by a third, from 6.13 per 10,000 vehicles in 2021 to 4.13 in 2022 .
The Fund’s ability to effectively address the road safety crisis is based on our comparative advantage of fostering international collaboration and cooperation through the pooling of financial resources and technical knowledge. The more financial and technical partners that participate in the Fund, the more comprehensive our response has been, covering road safety legislation, enforcement, education, use of technology and implementation of international regulations and standards.
In the case of West Africa – led by our project partners, the UN Environment Program and the UN Economic Commission for Europe – the Fund collaborated on an initiative with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, FIA and the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Board.
This has helped the 15 ECOWAS member states to adopt and roll out a regionally harmonized vehicle directive and technical inspection system, which sets a common standard to safeguard the safety and environmental friendliness of vehicles. used on the roads of West Africa. It is now helping to reduce the number of vehicles involved in fatal accidents due to technical faults by 50%, saving thousands of lives.
Key to strengthening the Fund’s global reach and engagement is our commitment to communicate clearly and effectively with the public, stakeholders and decision makers to ensure everyone is informed and engaged in response efforts.
In addition to project planning information sessions that encourage knowledge exchange and create synergies and complementary funding opportunities before projects are finalized; the Fund also offers three major key events. These include virtual Open day for the project partners to share the results of the project, the launch of the annual impact reportheld on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum Summit, and the Highlights Country visit stakeholders to immerse themselves in the projects supported by the Fund.
As citizens of the world, we all face a crossroads of crises. The Fund’s response has been to invest in supporting interconnections with other development priorities to build resilience and preparedness for future crises.
Aware of the economic crises, the Fund’s investment in transport safety and road infrastructure is vital. This is what we did to support the Tanzanian government – with project partners, the International Road Assessment Programme, the International Road Federation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
This initiative has helped reduce road traffic crashes which place a heavy additional economic burden on families, governments and employers – covering medical expenses, lost income and reduced productivity – costing the economy worldwide 1.85 trillion US dollars each year.
Low- and middle-income countries devote considerable public personnel and other resources to treating and rehabilitating people injured in road crashes. It is therefore imperative to reduce the burden of road crashes on national health systems, thereby freeing up critical resources to address other pressing health issues.
Given the ongoing health crises, the Fund is investing in effective post-crash responses – a priority area for the 2023 call for proposals and an issue we are addressing in countries like Bangladesh And Azerbaijanwho suffer from high rates of road fatalities.
To mitigate the effects of climate change, the Fund is also investing in cleaner ways to travel safely, including through Reclaim the streets project across Africa to prioritize safe walking and cycling routes for pedestrians and cyclists who also happen to be our most vulnerable road users.
During these years of polycrises, the Fund relied on the approach of global solutions to meet the global challenge of road safety. And, this month, as the Fund celebrates five years, I challenge more nations, businesses and individuals to invest in the only global response that comprehensively addresses the root causes of systems. poor road safety standards around the world. Join us in our sustained efforts and rise again to tackle the serious and interconnected challenges that is the global road safety crisis today.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service