Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1242, (16-22 April 2015)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1242, (16-22 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

In Nada’s memory

Can a grassroots youth initiative help halt Egypt’s sad history of road accidents? Angy Essam finds out

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you05
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Nada Foundation for Safer Roads, launched in February 2014, was officially registered as a foundation in August 2014. It began its activities with a social media campaign against distracted driving, calling up a significant response and pledges from users by using slogans like matestakhdemsh al-mahmoul wa khalli einak ala al-tarik ala tool (don’t use your mobile phone and concentrate while driving) and hayati wa hayatak aham min masedjatak wa telephonatak (your life and mine are more important than your messages and calls).

Mirette Mahmoud, 23, one of the initiative’s founders and the cousin of Nada, 19, who was the victim of a car accident in 2013 and has given her name to the foundation, said that it had been set up in memory of Nada and every single other life that had been lost on Egypt’s roads. The idea was to do something about the fast-growing problem of road and traffic-related injuries and mortality in Egypt.

The foundation was founded by 50 of Nada’s friends, university colleagues and relatives, all of whom wanted to work together to prevent more accidents occurring.

The foundation aims to design small-scale innovative initiatives to address the problem, Mahmoud said. “Our initiatives are all community-based, adapted to the local context at the level of the city, village or neighbourhood, and replicable and sustainable through the active engagement of civil society, individuals and government,” she said.

She explained that road accidents were the main killer of Egyptian young people aged between 14 and 40 years old. “Our statistics state clearly that every 40 minutes someone dies because of a road accident. This means that about 14,400 people die each year, and five times this number become disabled,” Mahmoud said. The foundation’s initiatives include research and circulating user-friendly, empowering information, as well as training and behavioural change to stop young people putting themselves at risk of road accidents.

They also include the advocacy and enforcement of existing laws, ensuring health and safety and road-engineering standards, and access to supportive resources.

The Nada Foundation has already visited Cairo University, the AUC and BUE, presenting material about road safety and giving sessions about safe behaviour. Following the right behaviour can save the life of a driver, his passengers and any passers-by who could become involved in an accident, Mahmoud said.

“We talk to young people about how a lot of young people have died because of reckless behaviour, talking on mobile phones and not concentrating while driving. We tell them how Nada’s death made us change our behaviour and put our mobiles away before driving,” she added.

The foundation organised a run fun in Zamalek in March to raise awareness of the problem in collaboration with the Cairo Runners.

Mahmoud said the event had helped raise awareness of the true size of the problem, change the behaviour that causes road fatalities, and adopt positive attitudes towards the issue.

Under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the foundation also took part in a classic car day organised by the Vintage Wheels group in collaboration with the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt. “Our target is to reach zero accidents per year, but saving even one life would make a huge difference,” Mahmoud concluded.


The writer is a freelance journalist.

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