Tanzania: NGO advocacy to prioritize pedestrian safety

In Tanzania, 30 km/h zones have been incorporated into the draft National Road Safety Plan, expected to be unveiled later this year. This will be an important milestone in the adoption of evidence-based interventions to prioritize pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. The inclusion of 30 km/h zones in the plan follows extensive advocacy by Alliance members. 

Road Safety Ambassadors Tanzania (RSA Tanzania) were heavily involved and influential in the process supported through the Alliance Incubator program.  “We employed a data-driven and partnership-based strategy to persuade decision-makers, utilizing the Accountability Toolkit as a foundation for our advocacy efforts”, says Ramadhani Msangi, RSA Tanzania’s Deputy Director for Education, Information and Communications. 

RSA Tanzania undertook various activities that supported the inclusion of 30 km/h zones in the plan including document reviews and data gathering. It reviewed documents such as the National Health Policy, the National Roads Policy of 2009, and the Land Transport Management Policy. It also obtained data on road crashes from the traffic police and data on the number of cars in Tanzania from the Tanzania Revenue Authority. RSA also collected data on road networks and the expansion and infrastructure of urban and rural roads from Tanzania Road Agents and Tanzania Rural Road Agents respectively. “We compared these data with that of the 2022 census in Tanzania to show how the number of people, vehicles, and road networks impact on road safety and the need for evidence-based actions to ensure that road safety is improved” says Ramadhani.  

RSA Tanzania’s research-driven data provided compelling evidence to the National Road Safety Council, underscoring the vital importance of incorporating the 30 km/h speed limit as an evidence-based intervention to safeguard the lives of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, particularly in densely populated areas. They used the approach outlined in the Accountability Toolkit to navigate government plans, comprehend the intricacies of the National Road Safety Council’s structure, and contribute to a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the safety of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. “The Toolkit and the sessions on how to use the Toolkit provided key information and tools that informed our strategy, giving us an in-depth understanding of the need for evidence-based interventions”, says Ramadhani. 

RSA were not the only Alliance members that were part of the advocacy effort; Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) who contributed to strengthening the advocacy journey through their input on the need for safer roads, and NGOs like Amend that provided supporting information and expertise on road safety.

Partnerships were key. Key partners and stakeholders were pooled together, including road safety authorities and the police, who contributed their knowledge on regulation and enforcement, NGOs, and concerned advocacy groups. “We started by building a resolute team, driven by a collective commitment to enhance road safety for all, particularly those most at risk. Collaboration played a pivotal role as we engaged with stakeholders from various organizations and institutions” says Ramadhani. These meetings forged vital connections across seven ministries, law enforcement agencies, transport regulatory authorities, road construction and management agencies, driver associations, educators, local government bodies, and non-governmental organizations. Each interaction became a building block toward prioritizing the safety of pedestrians and vulnerable road users.

Their success is without challenges, as acknowledged by Ramadhani. “There were several challenges which we faced during the process, including availability and access to road crash data. We noticed that our system of collecting and analyzing road crash data is not scientific, which is why our data always varies from the ones which are published by WHO. We pushed for the inclusion of improvement in road safety data in the plan because it is a key intervention to inform strategies for better road standards in Tanzania.”

With 30 km/h zones incorporated into the draft National Road Safety Plan, RSA is now focused on making sure it is adopted by the National Road Safety Council. RSA is currently reviewing and incorporating feedback to further enhance the provisions of the implementation of 30 km/h zones in the plan. Their journey is poised to culminate in a symbolic event to hand over the plan to the General Secretary of the National Road Safety Council, which will be followed by an official launch of the plan and a commitment to ensure widespread implementation. The plan’s formal unveiling is scheduled for the forthcoming annual National Road Safety Week in Dodoma, planned for November or December 2023. While this signifies a significant step towards implementing evidence-based interventions to protect road users, especially pedestrians, there is more to be done.  According to Ramadhani, “preparing the National Road Safety Plan as a document which will be used to support implementation of the Global Decade of Action 2021-2030 in our country is a very sensitive matter that needs more time and investment.”

Alliance member NGOs’ efforts are a crucial step for achieving the Global Plan targets in Tanzania and we congratulate them and wish them well for the next stage of their advocacy.