Walking can constitute up to 75% of all journeys in Low Income Countries, as the only available and affordable mode to access work, markets, healthcare and education. But, fundamentally many of the environments in which people are walking are unsafe and unpleasant. This means that Global South cities urgently need to promote pedestrian environments that are inclusive, safe and connected to achieve a number of their related Sustainable Development Goals, such as reduced inequalities, gender equality and improved access to services.
The Walk21 Foundation in partnership with The University of Manchester, University of Leeds and GIZ visited 5 cities during the first half of the year to explore the implementation gap around walking in cities in the global south work and provided new training on the 8 Steps to a Walkable City.
The project worked with key local delivery partners in Manila in The Philippines, Medellin in Colombia, Kampala in Uganda, Nairobi in Kenya and Dhaka in Bangladesh and are representative of many of the urban challenges found across South East Asia, Latin America and East Africa.
Mr Mark Richmond de Leon, Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, in Manilla said:
“Too often we have built roads without sidewalks. Pedestrian have been an after-thought, if they have been thought of at all, and it is time to change the paradigm from car focused planning with very poor connectivity and accessibility to public transport to one where the convenience of people matters most – even if that means working across government silos”.
Amanda Ngabirano, Urban and Regional Planner, lecturer at Makerere University, spoke at the event saying:
“I am a passionate advocate for more investment in walking, cycling and public transport because I believe this is the way we can make our city more efficient. The challenge is that most people are walking already and it is full of problems for them. This is enough of a justification for more to be done - but the opportunity is for us to be a city that is better for business, better for health and better for air quality too - to be part of this global topic, and make this city the city we all want.”
The feedback from delegates was that they now; had a better understanding of why walking is important, had a better appreciation of what matters most for walkability, are better equipped to promote walkability through their job, know how to deliver better walkability, know who is responsible for delivering better walkability and are inspired to advocate for walkability.
The workshops were focussed on actions that could be delivered quickly in order to achieve impact and with the new willingness of local leaders and experts and with more funding, this project could achieve much more!