Image credit: UNICEF

March 2019: A strong coalition convened by UNICEF Paraguay is stepping up its work to combat excessive road traffic injury and provide safe school journeys for children. At the end of October 2018, the Child Health Initiative (CHI), and experts from the FIA Foundation, Amend and iRAP engaged with UNICEF and its government and non-government partners, to run a workshop in Asuncion to strengthen institutional and community capabilities to save lives. Facilitated by Rafaela Machado (Star Rating for Schools Global Coordinator) and attended by representatives from the FIA Foundation (Agnieszka Krasnolucka), UNICEF (Regina Castillo) and ANTSV (María del Carmen de Porro), the workshop targeted urban designers, education and road safety professionals, as well as community leaders from the city.

In Paraguay, 1,200 people die every year in traffic crashes, and it is estimated that more than 60,000 are left with serious injuries. In addition, Paraguay ranks first in the deaths of adolescents and young people due to road accidents in comparison with other countries in South America (according to data from the National Traffic and Road Safety Agency Observatory, 2018).

To tackle this issue, an initiative of the Municipality of Asuncion, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC) and the Touring and Automobile Club Paraguayo, with the support of the National Traffic and Road Safety Agency (ANTSV) was established. The “Vale 1 Vida” awareness campaign is part of the project “Road Safety in the School Environment with an Inclusive Approach”, implemented in 28 schools in Asunción.

The October Safe and Accessible School Environment workshop formed part of the project and included an overview of the Star Rating for Schools tool; a discussion around the safe mobility of children; and how to carry out evaluations of school zones using the tool.

Attendees in the one-day workshop were provided with an understanding of how accessible and easy to use the Star Rating for Schools tool is, and how it can be used to inform school zone road infrastructure safety upgrades and improve road safety for school communities. SR4S can be used to support the educational activities of the Vale 1 Vida campaign.

Paraguay have been actively involved in the SR4S Phase 1 Global Pilot, with data collected from 29 school environments by the Touring y Automovil Club Paraguayo (TACPy). This data is being compiled into a final report to be presented to the Municipality of Asuncion, which is committed to improving infrastructure in the school communities.

UNICEF’s Regina Castillo said that “Forty-eight percent of those who die from road accidents are adolescents on motorcycles between the ages of 15 and 19. UNICEF, as the United Nations Agency for Children and Adolescents, cannot be oblivious to this reality, which is why we are working like many others, especially with the National Transit and Security Agency and the Municipality of Asunción, to reduce these figures.”

The “Road Safety in the School Environment with an Inclusive Approach” project involved 28 teams of 800 adolescent volunteers and provided information on safe mobility with an inclusive approach to more than 1800 students, and more than 3,000 boys and girls.

More information and external references: