Young change makers: Brian Kanaahe Bilal is saving lives through road safety programming

“Africa is not where we want it to be but, it’s young population is not sleeping.” Brian Kanaahe Bilal.
Brian 3
Young Achiever
We have heard from several corners that Africa is rising. Currently, the continent has the highest rate of economic growth; a fact that has economic powers rushing to engage Africa’s leadership so as to tap into the enormous investment potential that is increasingly becoming synonymous with the continent.
Perhaps one of the factors for this unprecedented growth of the continent is the emergence of a generation of fresh thinkers who not only think innovatively but are revolutionizing how everything is done. These are Africa’s youth.
One such passionate and incredibly talented young people is Brian Kanaahe Bilal.
At 28, Brian Kanaahe Bilal’s C.V can easily make a college professor envious. Brian is a Road Safety Activist and Programme Manager for Road Safety and Pre-hospital Care at Red Cross Uganda.
We caught up with him and he shared with us his story.
So, who is Brian Kanaahe Bilal?
I was born in 1986, in Rukungiri District; 3 months after the current president had assumed office. I had my early education in the same district. I pursued a Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences at Mbarara University of Science & Technology. I graduated in 2008.
After my university, I took up prehospital care courses with Uganda Red Cross and Magen David Adome in Israel between June 2008-2009.
In 2010, I studied at the International Health Sciences University for an MPH focusing on Health Promotion. In 2011, I joined John Hopkins School of public health for International Certificate in Injuries, Disabilities & violence prevention. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Evaluation of Prehospital Care Programmes in Developing Countries at Mbarara University of Science & Technology.
Tell us about your work.
Between March-July 2005, I took up my first international youth volunteering experience with UNAIDS-Zambia in Ndora where I and other young volunteers conducted peer education activities with the focus on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.
In April 2009 I took up another international Youth Volunteering experience with the Uganda Red Cross & Danish Red Cross in Denmark & Sweden focusing on life planning.
I am currently the programme manager for road safety, pre-hospital care and ambulance for the Uganda Red Cross. My interest is in advocacy, capacity building, connecting and inspiring young lives.
On a voluntary basis, I am the Technical Advisor for the UN & WHO Youth wing on Road Safety (YOURS) Africa Region. We work through a network of youth led organisations working in the field of road safety all over the continent.
Brian 5
What drives you in the work you do?
There is no other word than Passion. Developing countries especially in Africa are hit badly by the burden of road traffic crashes. Worse still, this is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-30, globally. Unfortunately, this field doesn’t get the attention it should be getting from the decision makers.
When I was little, my father was involved in a serious road traffic crash, and that had psychological problems and I ended up getting bad grades in my Primary Leaving Examinations. This is one of the experiences that families and friends go through when their loved ones get injured in tragic accidents.
I am also driven by young people all over the globe especially in Africa who are setting new records and trends. These visionaries are setting up social change programmes and contributing to communal and continental transformation.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
I am afraid; I don’t have any significant achievements really. There is a hell lot of mess in pre-hospital care to do. I don’t think that publishing papers, conducting research, providing capacity building programmes to young people in public health all over Africa are achievements yet.
I’d say, my biggest achievement is in knowing that in every African country, there is a group of young people focused to improve the pre-hospital care situation in their respective country. Luckily, they are my friends. Africa’s young population isn’t sleeping; they are driving the much needed change that this continent desperately needs.
What are your plans for the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, our prehospital care network in the whole continent should be strong enough with strong results and impact at local and national level in 70% of African countries. We currently have a network in 18 African countries. I also hope to have finished my current PhD. I aspire to become head of the WHO Violence-Injuries & Disabilities Unit- Africa Region. Hopefully, I will be able to achieve this in the next 2 years.
What is your advice to aspiring change makers in Africa?
The first step is to become the change you want to see. Secondly, be focused and keep time! Iam disturbed by the ‘Uganda Time’ and ‘Africa Time’ syndrome, time is a valuable resource and should be treated as such.
I encourage young change makers to connect with like minded peers. I do believe that success is contagious. Don’t segregate your friends on lines of religions, social status or culture. Strive to live with each other in harmony and endeavor to learn from everyone you meet. In every new person you meet, consider the possibility that they could be the next Nelson Mandela.
Try to inspire others by being a source of accurate information. Above all, find your passion. Young change makers run a risk of imitating others but they should always remember that we all are unique individuals with unique competencies and destinies.
Thank you very much for taking off time to speak with us.
To follow Brian’s work, check out his blog site


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here