Lusaka, Zambia is making roads safer for children

Author: Urban Hub Team at Save the Children International

It’s Road Safety Week. We’re featuring Lusaka, Zambia, winner of the 2023 Vision Zero for Youth Award, and the impressive actions taken by the city to improve road safety for children since 2017.

Road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for children and youth

According to the World Health Organization, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children and youth aged 5 to 29. Every year road traffic crashes kill 1.2 million people and leave 20 to 50 million severely injured. For children, most incidents occur when they are walking or cycling to school in cities in low- and middle-income countries.i

Making roads safer for children and youth saves lives, encourages active mobility, improves health and wellbeing and access to education, improves air quality and makes cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Lusaka, Zambia is taking impactful action on improving road safety for children and youth

Since 2017, Lusaka, Zambia has taken several bold steps to improve road safety for children in the city. Milestones include:

  • 2017: Joining the Bloomberg Philanthropies Healthy Cities partnerships and deciding to focus on improving road safety.
  • 2018 to 2020: Partnering with global and local road safety organisations like Amend and Zambia Road Safety Trust to implement safer school zones around 3 local schools where students were most at risk of road fatalities and injuries. Interventions included footpaths, raised zebra crossings, crossing guards, rumble strips, bollards, and road safety education. Surveys showed up to 68% reduction in vehicle speeds around intervention schools.
  • 2019: Passing a nation-wide regulation on 30-kilometer- per-hour speed limit on all urban roads.
  • Ongoing work includes efforts to reduce drunk driving, improve child passenger safety regulations and working with Zambian police on enforcing compliance with traffic safety laws around schools, as well as implementing campaigns and education initiatives that focus on safety around schools.
  • Road outside a school in Lusaka before interventions © Amend

In 2023, Lusaka, Zambia won the Vision Zero for Youth award, which recognizes cities that have taken impressive action to improve walking and biking safety for children and youth with the goal of building safer, healthier communities for everyone.

Road Safety in African Cities

Africa has the highest road traffic fatality rate at 27 per 100,000, which is well above the global average of 18 per 100,000. Vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists account for 44% of road traffic fatalities.ii


The World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023 shows that road fatalities are decreasing in all regions around the globe, except in African countries, where they are increasing at alarming rates.

The above graph show percentage change in estimated road fatalities, by WHO region, 2010-2021 Source: Global Status report on Road Safety 2023

Reasons for poor road safety in African cities include:

  • Increased and irregular migration to cities leading to rapid and unequal urbanization
  • Weak governance, lax laws around road safety and poor regulation where laws exist
  • Ineffective decentralisation and lack of fiscal and technical capacity at local levels
  • Lack of political will, and
  • Competing agendas

Making roads safer for children and youth is becoming a priority in several cities across the world. And cities can draw inspiration from successful, replicable and scalable interventions, programmes and policies.

Six actions cities can take to make roads safer and more inclusive for children and youth

  1. Reduce speeds to 30 Km/hr near schools and areas where roads are shared with pedestrians and cyclists: Read our Revisiting Streets for Life #Love30 blog to know more about how to implement 30 Km/hr streets.
  2. Open streets to people and close them to cars: In cities across the world, streets, the largest public space, are dominated by cars and vehicular traffic. Read our blog on Open Streets for people and pedestrian space to know more about promoting walkable cities, and closing streets to traffic and opening them up for walking, cycling, play, socializing, and performances.
  3. Champion cycling in cities: Learn how to put cycling on the agenda of cities by reading our blog on Putting children and families at the heart of cycling programmes in Latin American cities
  4. Implement safe school zones: Our blogs Lessons from more than 1000 school streets and Six ways to design safer school zones emphasise the importance of improving road safety around schools and how to go about it.
  5. Make neighbourhood streets child-friendly: Read our blogs Child-friendly street transformations improve neighbourhood quality of life and How can we make urban mobility more child friendly? to learn how to make neighbourhood streets more safe, active, and sociable.
  6. Invest in child-friendly urban planning: Read our blogs on the importance of child friendly urban design, What do child-friendly neighbourhoods look and feel like?, and how civil society and local governments can support child-friendly urban planning.

More ideas for action and learnings form cities can be found in the report Nine Strategies Cities Use to Prioritize Safe, Active Travel for Youth recently published by the Vision Zero for Youth.



About the Author

This blog was written by the Urban Hub Team at Save the Children International. Special thanks to Nancy Pullen-Seufert from National Center for Safe Routes to School and Beatrice Dumaswala from FIA Foundation for reviewing the blog.


i Road safety. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2024, from

ii Road Safety Week: African nations steer towards reducing deaths. (2023, May 16). Retrieved March 26, 2024, from Africa Renewal website:


The Public Spaces for Children series showcases ideas for action, innovation, programmes, policies and practices that make public spaces child-friendly. Read more of our blogs here.

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