From the Field: Texel on Child Pedestrian Safety in Maputo

Texel Cossa, Amend’s new Office Manager and Program Assistant in our Mozambique office, shares her thoughts on child pedestrian safety in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital:

ChTHPRSWIAAbECO

Safe infrastructure?

I recently started working with Amend in Mozambique, and as I travel around Maputo speaking with communities to understand the impact of road traffic injuries, I see that the reality is tragic.

A considerable number of parents from the outskirts of the city leave for work early and therefore they leave their children to make the journey to school alone or accompanied only by their siblings.

There is a severe lack of demarcated crossing points, traffic warning signs, speed calming measures and little presence of traffic police to assist children.

Worsening the situation is the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the roads with little or no provision made for pedestrians, let alone children.

Compounding all this is the fact that some drivers are neither cautious nor considerate of other road users, particularly young pedestrians.

From speaking with communities and teachers, my observation, sadly, is of a considerable number of tragic child fatalities and serious injuries on Maputo’s roads.

The picture above shows dangerous traffic in the vicinity of a school (Escola Primária Completa Imaculada – you can see the school’s location on Google Maps here) very close to a pathway the children use. In the foreground is a log intentionally placed by the school community in an attempt to prevent drivers from using the pathway. This shows how communities feel the need to protect themselves and their children from dangerous driving. This school has an estimated 1,400 pupils aged between 6 and 14 years, whose lives are put at risk every day, and the head teacher reports that eight students at the school have been injured in road traffic in the last year alone.

For all these reasons, Escola Primária Completa Imaculada is one of the schools Amend selected to implement our programme of road safety education, known as ‘See & Be Seen.’

Safe road use is a concept that must be learned. Amend focuses our road safety education efforts on providing road safety lessons in primary schools, as we know that young children, owing to their small size and underdeveloped perception skills, are at great risk of road traffic injury.

Amend’s lessons teach the basics of what it means to be safe when using the road, using entertaining instruction and songs, classroom teaching and practical lessons. Our fully trained Road Safety Instructors provide tools to perpetuate learning in schools, which ultimately spread throughout communities. So far this year, Amend has reached over 13,000 children in Maputo with our See & Be Seen program.

Of course, road safety education alone won’t solve the problem of road traffic injury in Maputo – it will take real government commitment to provide things like safe infrastructure around all the schools that need it – but working with communities like those around Escola Primária Completa Imaculada, who know their children are at high risk of road traffic injury, is a good place to start.