On average more than 500 children are killed on the world’s roads each day. Road safety education is therefore vital for any child or young person. However, what about those children who live on the street, who have nowhere to go to learn even the most basic road safety skills and who are the most exposed of all road users?
In Enugu it is estimated that over 1,000 children are living on the streets. But, like in most cities in Nigeria, official data does not record the number of street children who are involved in road traffic collisions. Yet, as any resident or visitor to most big cities around the country can attest, the presence of children begging for help in the street (most of them near traffic lights, road crossings, and between lanes of traffic) puts both themselves and other road users at serious risk.
These children, just like any others, therefore, need to know how to keep themselves as safe as possible while they are on or near the road. As such we are very proud to have The Safety Chic Project to initiate the first-ever evidence-based strategy for protecting street children in Enugu from road risk.
Initial survey data collected by the Straight Street Initiative of over 50 street children (aged 8-17) has revealed the extremely high levels of risk these exceptionally vulnerable kids face on a daily basis, and reinforced just how urgent the need is to provide even the most basic road safety education.
For example, over 60 per cent of the children attested to being out on the street for 3 hours or more everyday, mainly at night. There was a very low level of awareness in terms of knowing how cross roads in areas where there are no crossings, or how to walk safely in areas with no pavements. Some did not know how to read traffic lights, or even which side to look first while crossing the road. While any information about wearing bright clothing at night or using reflectors was entirely new. It was perhaps unsurprising therefore that 25 per cent admitted to having been involved in a road traffic collision at some point in their lives.
As such, this necessitated the training held on Monday, 9th October, 2017 to fulfill a vital need by offering road safety training and teaching to street children in Enugu.
So far one session have held at Night, reaching over 20 children aged between 8-18 years old. The session developed dedicated visual and activity-based methods by which to teach core road safety messages – focusing on real life examples, social responsibility and the children’s role in the road safety process, including awareness raising on traffic rules and correct road behaviour.
As this project develops, we hope to see many more initiatives aimed at protecting street children from road risk, not just in Enugu but nationwide. As such, the project will also produce a set of recommendations that can be taken forward by policy makers, influencers and key stakeholders to advocate for reforms to protect street children more generally.