A first step for pedestrians in Niamey, Niger

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The West African country of Niger ranks on the bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI). So with all of the needs of the population, it may seem odd to worry about the condition of pedestrians. But Ibrahim at SOS Tabagisme, an organization originally dedicated exclusively to tobacco control, became interested in the issue of road deaths and the alarming number of pedestrians being killed by vehicles. Those deaths were devastating to family members and contributed to the general sense of insecurity as people moved about the capital city of Niamey, trying to conduct their daily activities. When the government focuses its attention on cars, it also means that an inordinate share of the transport budget goes to a small minority of road users. The question Ibrahim asked himself was how to gain attention to the inequities in the transport budget and to the devastating toll of road deaths? Walking is the main form of transport but ignored by most groups; by raising attention to the issue of pedestrians, he could also address other concerns about equitable budgeting and the right of people to move about the city and earn their livelihood in safety. Now Ibrahim is working with local researchers on a study to assess the pedestrian environment and the issues faced by people on foot, as the first step in a longer campaign to increase social justice in transport.