From Africa: New street safety plan for students offers lessons for all cities

Schoolchildren face a maze of uncertainty on their way to class every day in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. With road networks constantly expanding in one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, the 90 percent of kids who walk to school need to navigate across streets without pedestrian crossings—and sometimes without sidewalks.

Packs of motorcycles zip in front of and around cars, accounting for nearly half of road injuries. The average journey of one kilometer from home to classroom can be dangerous, and too often, deadly. African children are twice as likely to die in a traffic collision then children in other parts of the world.

The clear challenge, and lack of resources to address it, has inspired one nonprofit to create a solution with the potential to scale up and solve road safety issues worldwide. In 2012, a Ghana-based non-governmental organization called Amend created a data-driven approach to quickly fixing dangerous streets called SARSAI (School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvements).

After years of iterating the program, SARSAI has impacted more than 30 school and 64,000 students in Tanzania alone, and spread to nine additional countries. It also has won the first annual Ross Prize for Cities, a $250,000 global award given by the World Resources Institute (WRI).