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Some background on the Kayes Bridge article

Last week on the World Streets blog, sustainable transport advocate Eric Britton writes,

John Ernst, a long time sustainable transport colleague and ITDP Vice Director, Southeast Asia, writes that he finds World Streets pretty good value thus far, but he regrets that most of our content thus far seems to be focusing on what is going on within the advanced edge of the OECD region. …

What can I say in response but yes indeed — so what if we now put our heads together to bring in content from other parts of the world . . . after all, that?s where most of the people are and where the future is going to play out in the mega-numbers.

So let me share this with you as a challenge. And what do we need from all these places? Well, news on trials and innovations to support more sustainable transport where they are actually up and working, honest reporting on everything, and even from time to time when it is exemplary, information for our excellent and consistently troubling Bad News Department. …

As part of this necessary outreach we have decided that the Streets theme for the month of August will be Sustainable Transport in Africa: Advancing the Agenda. About time, eh?

I wholeheartedly agree. I do not contribute directly to World Streets, but I share the same overall goals: to advance sustainable transportation worldwide. This is why I reported what I saw on my trips to Santo Domingo, Oxford and San Juan, and why I translate articles from around the world.

Reading Eric’s post, however, I realized that I had never written about transportation in Africa, although I’m one of the relatively few Americans who have visited the continent. So I chose an article in French about Mali and translated it. I plan to continue paying attention to Mali and reporting on what I hear from there.

You could do the same thing. Even if you’ve never been to Africa, all you have to do is post a link to an article about Africa. You don’t have to know anything about a place to share an interesting story. Sure it helps if you can read French, Portuguese or Arabic, or Amharic, Bambara or Xhosa, but there are plenty of African countries that have news sources in English.

How do you find these stories? Well, if you’re in New York, Paris or London, chances are you’ve got someone who knows all about the transportation system in Accra, Bamako or Dar es Salaam living within a ten mile radius. That’s probably the best way, and it would probably help your work to reach out in that direction.

Social networks being what they are, you may find it daunting to make such connections between now and August. So we’ve got Google News Search, which is a fantastic tool for research. A quick search on “bus tanzania” gives this article about a bus rapid transit funding dispute in Tanzania. That article in turn is full of useful keywords (such as “Dar Rapid Transit Agency”), which can lead to more articles that can be synthesized to give an understanding of the project.

Wikipedia says there are 53 countries in Africa, from Nigeria down to the Seychelles. If every sustainable transportation blogger chose one or two countries, we could probably get a story about most of them within a short period of time. Who’s up for the challenge?

grvsmth (Author)

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