By Thalia Rahme
The year 2011 is ending with a new start for the Global Road Safety Partnership team in the Middle East and North Africa region. The team recently began collaborating with a new partner, the European Union (through the European Commission), within the framework of a new project entitled “EuroMed Transport – Support to the MENA Road Safety Programme”.
The programme is designed to complement transport activities that the Southern Mediterranean group of countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia, and possibly Turkey), are carrying out with EU assistance.
Supported by a EUR 1.000.000 contribution over a 36-month period, the GRSP MENA team will focus on implementing a regional approach to establish a sustainable tri-sector road safety partnership. The unique strength of this project lies in the fact that in addition to its regional dimension, it also places important emphasis on in-country and community interventions.
With the agreement sealed, the work underway is now in full swing. In the first stage, the focus will be on conducting “Country Road Safety Baseline Assessments” – specifically providing tools for road safety management and improving data systems. In parallel, GRSP MENA will identify national multi-disciplinary/sector teams that can coordinate, manage, monitor, and improve the implementation of road safety initiatives at the local level, which will serve as pilot programmes for the region. A first workshop is scheduled between March and April 2012. We will also be providing an increase in communications capability for MENA and GRSP. The donor highlighted this as a key success factor in the programme.
Yet this is not all. The GRSP MENA team has grown tremendously with the addition of 5 new young staff, making it the biggest team within the larger family of the Global Road Safety Partnership. Made possible with the support of EU funding, the new team includes: Rana Al Hariri, Programme Assistant, Sandra Arbid, Junior Road Safety Specialist, Laure Chedrawi, Senior Communication Officer focusing on the Global Road Safety Partnership communication strategy, Thalia Rahme, Communication Officer, and Yara Yassine, Programme Administrator. The team is headed by Samar Abouraad, MENA Regional Manager and Senior Specialist.Together, each new member with their expertise and experience will contribute to GRSP’s main goal and mission: a sustainable reduction of road-crash death and injury in low- and middle-income countries.
Building the GRSP MENA team and scaling-up its role and visibility is also one of the successful outcomes from the establishment of the MENA partnership (Shell, GRSP, and UN-ESCWA) three years ago. The work of this partnership, hosted by the IFRC MENA Zone Office, has been funded by Shell MENA since November 2008. An extension of the Shell funding has recently been agreed, thus providing additional funds to support programmes in countries outside the EU projects.