By Nadine El-Guiddawy
On her way back home from college, 19-year-old Nada Walid took her last breath before passing away in a car accident on the ring road in February 2013.
Road accidents now take many lives in Egypt. Stopping the increase of deaths requires a strong initiative to address the message to the masses.
After this tragic car accident that led to a terrible loss, a foundation holding her name, The Nada Foundation for Safer Egyptian Roads, was established and licensed in August 2014.
The initiative was launched by her family members and closest friends in order to raise awareness about the seriousness of road accidents, specifically in Egypt.
The initiative’s main goal is to advocate the state and government to efficiently address the message and prioritise it through policies, infrastructure development and strict implementation of related laws.
Change is needed in Egypt for safer roads because any family member could be impacted by these terrible accidents.
“We must be aware that car accidents can affect anyone, and we want to avoid that someone might go through what we have been through. We must start taking this problem seriously,” said Nihad Shelbaya, Nada’s mother and one of the co-founders of the initiative.
Any citizen is susceptible to the damage caused by the car accidents, whether death or injuries. Egypt loses 12,000 lives each year in car accidents, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2012.
Car accidents have disastrous impact on the population. It affects the most productive category of Egypt’s population, weakening the economy and reducing productivity, according to Shelbaya.
Road safety has become a global issue. “Egypt lacks safety features; its roads are not secured enough, laws related to driving are not strongly implemented and the infrastructure is in very poor condition that increases the rate of car accidents,” said Shelbaya.
The Nada Foundation was inaugurated on a large scale to reduce the death and injury rates due to car accidents. Their main vision is implemented through their four adopted strategies along different phases.
The campaign used social media to communicate their message. It started by raising awareness online about the enormity of the problem, communicating the terrible findings about car accidents in Egypt and getting people to realise to what extent they might be affected anytime anywhere.
The second strategy took place last summer while mobilising civil society and youth by changing their attitudes and impacting the behaviour of road users to a safer one.
“This was the most difficult phase but we actually succeeded in changing the behaviour for at least one month during the summer,” said Shelbaya.
After succeeding in modifying behaviour for one month, the Nada Foundation is now getting on ground with the civil society. Their campaign includes going to schools, as well as public and private universities to give live sessions in order to solve the disastrous epidemic.
One of the main upcoming on ground activities is their “Nada Route Safety” event in, which they will appear in Cairo Runners on 27 February to raise awareness and address their message to the mass.
The Foundation welcomes volunteers from different ages to help the project grow. Egyptians in their 20s are welcomed to volunteer in order to give the live sessions and older people are needed to be the experts and their advisors. Any further information is available on the Facebook page “The Nada Initiative for Safer Egyptian Roads” or their official website “nada-rdsafety.net”.