“They [pupils] will not forget,” said teacher Damallie Kibirige from Buganda road primary school in Uganda. “The i-CMiiST project [was crucial] to aid the memory for children to keep themselves safe on the road”.
This was one of the highlights of the schools’ view of i-CMiiST’s engagement with their children at a recent project evaluation workshop held at Africana hotel in Kampala. Kibirige was among the attendees that helped evaluate the project’s impact.
Dr Steve Cinderby, the project leader, said the workshop was intended to showcase what both Nairobi and Kampala teams have achieved and what they can learn from each other.
He said it would also help the team evaluate their activities with an input from independent people that included transport planners and users.
One of the intervention sites for the Kampala team was a busy road – Kampala Road – used daily by school children from two public schools: Buganda Road Primary/Secondary school and Bat Valley Primary School. More than 100 pupils from both schools were mentored into becoming safety champions.
School children are particularly vulnerable in Kampala and urban areas in Kampala with at least more than 400 children dying in accidents annually in Kampala. At least 20 per cent fatalities in the country involve children between 4 and 14, according to official figures.
The other intervention site for Kampala was Namirembe road where Kampala Capital City Authority has started works to transform it into non-motorised transport (NMT) zone. The Kampala team use digital messages, placemaking, participatory mapping and visual art to highlight the benefits of this undertaking to the public.
During the workshop, mind-boggling statistics on road traffic fatalities were highlighted, with Mark Ojal, a creative expert from Nairobi, showing that at least 3,000 people die annually on Kenyan roads – and at least 40% of the victims are pedestrians. The fatalities cost the country up to 6% of GDP. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 seeks to make world cities safer and more inclusive by 2030 for the millions of people living in them. Getting urban infrastructure planners plan for this reality is crucial.
The Kampala evaluation workshop attendants included transport planners from Kampala and Nairobi; creative experts from both cities; a representative from UN Environment, the teachers from the Kampala schools, academics from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Loughborough University, as well as UK arts organisation Invisible Flock.
Amanda Ngabirano, the team leader for Kampala and Alon Mwesigwa, the research assistant, led the presentations for the Kampala engagements. The presentation detailed the team’s engagements from road simulation to theatre plays, to poem and placemaking.
“The software [mind] bit is about change in mindset, change in attitude and sensitization. This is what i-CMiiST was all about. That we are opening up the eyes of the planners, the eyes of the road users and business people on the street. So there has to be a software component that connects to the infrastructure,” said Ngabirano.
For Kenya, engagements took place at two locations in Nairobi which were led by Mark Ojal, Constant Cap and SEI research assistant Alicia Olango. The intervention sites were Luthuli Avenue and Ring-road Kilimani. The Kenyan team used creative methods such as urban dialogues where the city planners and dwellers came together to discuss their mobility options. Other methods included participatory mapping, Minecraft design, and creative photography.
Both Ugandan and Kenyan team played field videos showing their works and some of the works were displayed in the whole.
The teams discussed how the data collected from the field can be packaged for the city planners and institutions so that they can incorporate and implement suggestions that the team came up with.
John K. Mwangi, the Namata-Nairobi official, said the road user doesn’t [? develop] the policy so the planners must look into themselves and change the distribution of space from just focusing on those driving private cars.
“80% of the space is given to private cars. As planners, we need to rethink this,” he said.
“The innovative methods they [researchers] used are good,” said Peter Kabanda, a technocrat from the Uganda ministry of Works. “We have the non-motorised transport policy which is a good start. We [Uganda] are working on the roads bill 2018 and this has a lot to do with the infrastructure. Where are the pedestrians passing? Where are the cyclists passing? And the level of enforcement. This will help us achieve inclusive transport.”
Prof Caroline Knowles, the programme director at the British Academy, said: “I was surprised and pleased to see what the team is doing. It is really a difficult project and I can’t believe they could make that much progress. I experienced the situation for myself and pedestrians are in a very dangerous position on the streets of Kampala…and particularly for children it’s very dangerous.”
“What the interventions showed is that even when things don’t change immediately, but people [continue] engaging the authorities over what they want, the way they want the streets to be…imagining the city in another way is perhaps the biggest gift that you’ve given out.”
By Alon Mwesigwa