La Paz, Bolivia

The La Paz Zebras: Citizen Culture Project



This is a city initiative to raise public awareness on road safety. The La Paz Zebra initiative is a very successful undertaking aimed at actively involving highly vulnerable youth in a citizen education program. Youth at risk are trained to become "civic educators" and are paid a minimum wage disguised and role-acting as zebras, in reference to zebra crossings.

The aim is to change both driver and pedestrian behavior and to encourage both groups to obey traffic signs and rules. The outcome is both changing people's behavior resulting in less traffic congestion and accidents, and providing youth at risk with a unique opportunity to become active and responsible citizens. 

The impact of this initiative has been mostly local but is now spreading to other cities across Bolivia as well as to other countries in Latin America.

The transformational nature of this initiative lies in its friendly and comic dimension and the innovative manner of engaging and integrating youth at risk. Youth are given a meaningful role in society, one which both empowers them and provides them with respect and dignity. As a result, many of the youth participating in this initiative have continued their education and found decent jobs; a few have pursued higher education. This initiative was selected due to its simplicity, transferability and social impact.