weetuzoo's International Correspondant Amanda Carlson touches base from Ethiopia. We are cranking her favorite Chirp Radio DJ Bylamplight (in honor of her today and thought it was a good time to post her next adventure).
Next blog stop: Ethiopia - Streets Without Sidewalks
By Amanda Carlson
Ethiopia feels like one nation-wide construction site: the grit and dust beginning at the country’s administrative center, Addis Ababa, and continuing down the spoke-like highways leading to the borders with Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
In the country’s Northwest, on the roads between Bahir Dar and Debark, newly paved roads connect the region’s cities and towns. A two-lane highway lets road warriors – cargo trucks, tourist vans, and local buses – speed through and bypass communities that continue to move their goods by horse-drawn carriage, mule, and man-power. Aside from obvious problems of uneven development, a design feature of modern thoroughfares is glaringly missing from these new additions to the landscape. Sidewalks.
What happens to a road when sidewalks, or other gathering spaces, aren’t part of construction? Communities – men, women and children; cattle, mules and goats –use the road for non-motorized activities. People wait for buses on the road. Kids play soccer on the road. Daily conversation and exchange happen on the road.
While community life continues and accommodates for these paved changes, the road warriors barrel through towns and hurtle at the lives and livelihoods that occupy the road, creating dangerous and life-threatening situations.
Sidewalks certainly aren’t the sexiest or most obvious pieces of regional planning. But, in their absence, their overall function and utility certainly become apparent.