Traffic safety signs people can relate to

MCA-Burkina Faso

One of the winning entries in MCA-Burkina Faso's road safety sign contest.

MCC’s five-year compact with Burkina Faso ends on July 31. This story is part of a series of blogs and stories that highlights the accomplishments of this compact through the voices of the people who will benefit most from MCC’s investments in Burkina Faso. Read the stories and learn more about the Burkina Faso compact.

As anyone who has worked with Kateri Clement, MCC’s resident country director in Burkina Faso, can attest, some of her best ideas come while traveling in the field. During a recent trip, we passed one of MCC’s traditional branded signs for the compact’s Roads Project and Kateri said, “I like the branded signs that we have on the road, but we can do better. Could we get an artist to design some signs to mark the road that MCC just funded?”

And so it began. Within a month, the team at MCA-Burkina Faso had launched a competition and opened it to the project beneficiaries living along the road in six municipalities in northwestern Burkina Faso. The challenge was to come up with a message that would encourage driver and pedestrian safety. Each municipality was to submit drawings with potential road-safety messages, and the winning designs would be turned into professionally produced signs.

Submissions came pouring in, and the topics ranged from warnings to drivers to obey speed limits and avoid reckless driving and alcohol to messages aimed at pedestrians with warnings to watch where they walk and keep a safe distance from the road when selling produce.

After a three-week design collection period, the municipalities’ mayors delivered the best entries in Ouagadougou, where judges from MCC, MCA-Burkina Faso and the National Road Safety Organization chose the designs that best incorporated messaging and quality artwork. The second- and third-place winners were both from the municipality of Bomborokuy, whose designs warn drivers against talking on a cell phone while driving and exceeding vehicle weight limits. The community earned two professionally produced road signs replicating the drawings, as well as school supplies for students.

Dédougou took home first prize—not only school supplies, but three large signs to be placed along the road to warn drivers not to drive too fast and to limit the number of passengers to the recommended number for the vehicle.

At the inaugural ceremony—attended by MCC Senior Advisor Cassandra Butts and Managing Director Alicia Phillips Mandaville—the mayor of Dédougou proudly accepted the prizes on behalf of her community. Cheers rang out when the sign was first unveiled, and construction workers installed the sign in the town of Nouna later that afternoon.

What began as an idea on a routine drive in the field, ended in an activity that fostered broad community participation and put a spotlight on the message that adherence to simple rules for traffic safety can save lives. Today, the residents along the MCC Road Project can be proud that they became a small part of the road construction, putting the final pieces together so that their neighbors can have easier and safer access to markets.