My name is Ousman Conteh, a youth activist by profession from Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. I currently serve the role of programme officer for the National Youth Parliament of The Gambia (NYP), chairperson of the joint road safety partnership between the NYP and youth commission of The Gambia Red Cross Society as well as a member of the Youth for road safety (YOURS) task force.
I was inspired to champion the cause of road safety in The Gambia while representing my country as a youth delegate to the first United Nations World Youth Conference on Road Safety, held in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2007 . I was then and still often am overwhelmed by the tragic and unbearable reports that each year nearly 1.3 million people die and around 50 million more are injured or disabled as a result of road traffic crashes. Of the total who are killed, more than 400,000 are young people. Millions more are injured or disabled. Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people, aged 10-24 years. To me, this is entirely unacceptable; most of these tragic deaths occur in developing countries and The Gambia is no exception. Even with all these figures and statistics, there is still a lack of awareness and recognition throughout the world of the vulnerable position of young people when using the roads. It is time that young people take responsibility on their own shoulders to make road safer for everyone – this is what YOURS is all about.
Since April 2007, road safety has been main-streamed into the programmes of Gambia’s NYP. I myself have actively engaged in vigorous advocacy and sensitisation programmes on road safety to direct focus on the devastating effect that our high number of road accident on our national development. The NYP, through intergenerational dialogue with key policy makers have successfully lobbied for an amendment to The Gambia’s Motor Traffic Act 2008, which prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving and makes the use of seatbelts compulsory.
One of our greatest achievements has been the signing of a joint partnership agreement between the youth commission of The Gambia Red Cross Society. They were mainly motivated and enthusiastic due to their active participation and representation at a training on road safety held at Youth on the move in Solferino last year. The Red Cross youth in Gambia have a membership of 30,000 young people, eager to join forces to help prevent road accidents. Their efforts have the capacity to reach thousands of young people across the country. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to enhance collaboration between stakeholders on road safety to strengthen coordination and expertise of national road safety related programs and initiatives.
My move to change the world was to help to inspiring young people and organization that work with young people to place road safety issues higher on their agenda, and to motivate the government and policy makers to recognize the link between road accidents and the socio-economic development of the country. My vision for the world is one where every human being can leave in a safe and favourable environment so that they can fully contribute to the development of their society.
You can read more about the YOURS network by visiting their website: www.youthforroadsafety.org.
You can also read more about Red Cross Red Crescent youth action on road safety by visiting our website.