“Happiness doesn’t come from what we get, but from what we achieve through our passion for saving lives.”
As a logistics specialist working for a company with a fleet of motorbikes, Betty Omoro knew firsthand the effects of road crashes on her drivers and their families, and on the productivity of the company. She has since applied her experience and insights more directly to the work of improving road safety with Smart Drivers Organization (SDO).
Poor roads in many parts of the world create life-threatening hazards for road users, and they hamper medical evacuations and the movement of goods to market. But rehabilitation of roads can create other dangers when the smooth surfaces invite heavier traffic and facilitate excessive speed and reckless practices.
In the coastal region of Bachuma Gate–Maji Ya Chumvi where the World Bank has been rehabilitating an important international transport corridor, SDO partners with local traffic police to sensitize public service vehicle and long-distance truck drivers on the importance of speed reduction and to encourage enforcement, and they advise World Bank contractors on placement of rumble strips near school zones. SDO also works directly with communities and schools along the road, engaging with local chiefs to assemble community members, opinion leaders, teachers and church leaders for road safety education sessions and activities. Those individuals then share IEC materials with their students and residents of their villages.
Betty applied for the Alliance Advocate training because she wanted to be a more effective road safety champion in Kenya, and she wanted to learn best practices from other countries.
In Memphis, Betty learned to approach road safety challenges in a different way by identifying specific objectives and planning evidence-based advocacy and action. This would allow her to work in a more targeted and strategic way, implementing relevant activities and conducting more rigorous monitoring and analysis of SDO results. When she returned to Kenya, Betty carried out power mapping to identify key partners and to build a coalition with two other road safety and education actors in Kenya: ASIRT and Pamoja Road Safety Initiative. SDO and their partners then designed and carried out a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP) study, with data disaggregated by gender and age, to develop the evidence on which to base their work and increase their impact. The KAP findings are integral to ongoing planning and project implementation.
Other achievements since Betty returned from Memphis include eight community sensitization sessions; 10 school-based road safety sessions and formation of road safety clubs at those schools involving 400 students; 50 construction workers and 50 motorcycle riders trained in road safety.
More effective reporting skills have helped SDO to obtain two multi-year grants from the World Bank in two areas of the country where road rehabilitation projects are creating new challenges and opportunities for SDO as they work for safer roads in Kenya.