April 19, 2017

Global Podcast: Georgetown's “Zusha!” Campaign Prevents Road Fatalities in Kenya

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According to the World Health Organization, road fatalities will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030. Although automobile accidents pose a massive threat to society, they particularly plague poorer nations with weak infrastructure. After debating the merits of different prevention tactics, two Georgetown professors brainstormed a way to combat this growing epidemic: motivational stickers.

The statistics are bleak. Over one million people die from traffic injuries annually. And in underdeveloped nations, limited resources do not bode well for crumbling roads and unsafe vehicles. With this information in mind, Drs. James Habyarimana and Billy Jack thought about how to reduce the number of casualties at a low cost. After much deliberation, they chose to travel to Kenya, where road fatalities are especially prevalent.

In Kenya, Habyarimana and Jack conducted an experiment involving matatus, or private minibuses, a main source of transportation. Matatus often create dangerous driving conditions. Drivers are compensated for speedy arrival times and serve large numbers of passengers. To change the status quo, the professors left stickers in matatus. Some stickers contained phrases related to road safety; others displayed images of car accidents. According to Habyarimana, the stickers were meant to encourage “passengers to exert social pressures on their drivers and...say something when the driver is misbehaving.”

The experiment has since transformed into a full-fledged campaign called Zusha!, which means “protest” in Swahili. To find out more about the creation and development of the Zusha! campaign and its impressive impact on reducing road fatalities, listen to the podcast.