Lusaka, October 03, 2019
On 2 October 2019, CUTS hosted a capacity-building workshop on food safety and nutrition for informal marketeers at Fairview Hotel. The meeting was held in collaboration with the Lusaka City Council, the National Food and Nutrition Commission and Hivos.
While malnutrition has been recognised as a key concern in Zambia there has been very little attention paid to the role that the informal market can play in addressing this issue. Given that the majority of consumers from across all income groups purchase their foods from the informal market, meaningful discussions pertaining to the promotion of healthy and sustainable diets in Zambia cannot take place without including informal market actors.
Against this background, CUTS hosted a meeting with a group of 20 informal marketeers from Soweto. The women received training on food safety from the Lusaka City Council and on nutrition from the National Food and Nutrition Commission.
The meeting established a platform that enabled the marketeers to raise a number of concerns with the relevant authorities. Among some of the issues raised by the marketeers were a concern with the collection of waste even after paying a fee K2 for waste collection daily as this was becoming a health hazard to the marketeers. Further the marketeers noted that due to load shedding their food stuffs were rotting in the refrigerators which was reducing their profits even after paying a fixed fee of K70 per month for electricity. The marketeers however were happy with the new engagement and urged the CUTS, LCC and the NFNC to continue working closely with them to ensure that they understand the importance of nutrition, health and food safety within the markets.
Following the conclusion of the meeting the participants formed a Nutrition Group and selected four representatives from among themselves to engage directly with the Lusaka City Council.
Ms Mukumba, CUTS Centre Coordinator, indicated that it is unfortunate that most discussions on informal markets in Zambia only focus on the role of informal markets in transmitting diseases. She noted that insufficient attention is paid to the role that informal markets play in supporting livelihoods and promoting nutrition particularly in low-income households. She opined that the lack of discussion around the benefits of local markets has resulted in inadequate discussions about how we can harness the potential within the informal market given its importance in ensuring not only food access to low- and middle -income consumers but also in supporting livelihoods and contributing to poverty reduction.
Ms Jane Zulu, CUTS Assistant Programme Officer (Consumer Welfare) added that the rise in urbanization has led to an increase in informal markets in Lusaka. She noted that informal markets play a crucial role in feeding Zambian cities because they sell a variety of products at relatively low prices,
and thus, play a crucial role in ensuring that people with low incomes have access to healthy, nutritious
and affordable food. She lamented, however, that despite their importance, informal markets are neglected from urban food planning and policy making which in turn fails to recognize the informal marketeer’s importance in ensuring that citizens have access to diverse foods to promote diverse diets at household level. The work that CUTS is doing with support from Hivos seeks to address this.
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