Following Rwanda’s example, Ethiopia implemented a monthly car free day to be held on the last or first Sunday of every month. Rwanda first implemented a Car Free Day for their capitol Kigali in 2016 and it quickly gained popularity among residents and people abroad. Following their example, Ethiopia held their first Car Free Day on December 9th 2018 (BBC). Main roads are closed temporarily on this day and participants are encouraged to walk, jog, cycle and play games such as football.
The goal of Car Free Day is to adopt a greener approach of living and to promote exercise. Dr. Amir Awan, Ethiopia’s current health minister also shared in a tweet some additional activities that are part of Care Free Day such as free medical screening and a talent show in the cities that partake. Car Free Day started with the capital city of Addis Ababa and several other key cities but is expanding to include more cities.
February was only the third month of this initiative but judging from the positive news coverage of the events, Car Free Day has gained some success in terms of new participants and popularity abroad. In January 2019, The Ministry of Health in Ethiopia lended 12,231 bicycles to citizens in cities that partook in Car Free Day signaling the day’s popularity. WHO Ethiopia, FIFA and BBC all tweeted in support of the movement and Kenya is now trying to implement its own Car Free Day after witnessing Rwanda and Ethiopia’s successful Car Free Days.
This is a great initiative by the Ethiopian government as it reminds citizens to not be so dependent on vehicles and also encourages a healthier lifestyle.
No traffic in Addis Ababa as Ethiopia marks Car Free Day. (2019, February 03). Retrieved February 6, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47107327?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/cwlw3xz047jt/ethiopia&link_location=live-reporting-story
Thousands walk on Ethiopia Car Free Day. (2018, December 09). Retrieved February 6, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46499036