Pedestrian traffic fatalities have been a leading cause of death among children in Afghanistan. With few alternatives, they spend much of their time playing or begging in the streets, making them prime targets for motor vehicles that are themselves often driven by young and inexperienced drivers.
To remedy the situation, ICMA designed and constructed an innovative park in Kabul where children can learn about traffic safety while they play. Part of ICMA's CityLinks cooperative agreement with USAID, the project was undertaken in conjunction with the city's mayor and municipal office.
The traffic safety park was designed by two Afghan engineers, Afzal Qayoumi and Amanullah Afghanzoi, who got the idea while on an ICMA-sponsored study tour to India. It is located in the city's Shar-i-Naw Park, which is one of the few family recreational areas in Kabul. Constructed in the 1980s, Shar-i-Naw had fallen into disrepair, with its greenery gone and much of the area filled with trash. In a separate project, ICMA had earlier rehabilitated the entire park to its former state so that it became once again a popular and safe congregating place for children and their families.
Finished in 2007, the 2,400-square-meter traffic safety park was the first of its kind in Afghanistan. It offers a full complement of recreational facilities for children, including covered slides, jungle gyms, and monkey bars. Stop signs, traffic lights, and pedestrian walkways are interspersed throughout, so that the children absorb lessons about traffic safety while they play. One portion of the park features small pedal-powered bumper cars the children can ride, so that they learn traffic safety from a driver’s perspective.
The work was overseen by an Afghan engineer, a 26-year-old woman named Diana – another first for Afghanistan.
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