By: Emily Mikwa
56 Kisumu county women street food vendors are the beneficiaries of a four day training on matters food safety and quality management held in the pilot areas; Kondele, Nyalenda and Nyamasaria under the green Cities Initiative, supported by FAO, and implemented by the Practical Action in collaboration with the County Government of Kisumu.
The training that began on 15th to 18th March, aims at equipping the women street food vendors with skills that will increase their capacities to improve their businesses to deliver healthy safe food to the residents of Kisumu.
The initiative saw the participants train on various disciplines concerned with food safety and business management such as food safety legislation, public health law enforcement, food handling and processing, reducing food loss through value addition, urban planning aimed at equitable provision of public spaces that satisfy the needs of urban residents,
In addition, sustainable waste management by reduce, re – use and recycle, business spotting ideas, importance of record keeping, developing a business plan, public relations in marketing, access to different credit facilities and the requirements and formation of associations that can enable the SMEs access county Government trade funds.
The Green Cities Initiative is part of the FAO flagship initiative under the Urban Food Agenda that enhances sustainable development, food security and nutrition in urban and peri-urban areas, and nearby rural spaces. It consists of a vast range of policies, programmes and initiatives developed and implemented in partnership with different stakeholders: civil society, academia, UN & International agencies, City Networks and relevant public and private bodies and entities.
Based on the premise that at least 55% of the world’s population already lives in urban areas and 80% of all food produced globally is destined for consumption in urban spaces. Social, economic and environmental sustainability of food systems and the evolution of urban diets will largely be dependent on the management of food systems in urban and peri-urban areas.
Therefore, according to FAO, a greater focus on the Urban Food Agenda is long overdue. In their 2030 Vision, the Urban Food Agenda forms an integral part of the Organization’s vision of resilient, integrated, sustainable and inclusive food systems, which ensure that all people in all places are free from hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
This has necessitated the need to transform Kisumu’s food system that is more pressing than ever in the face of shocks and stresses that undermine the city and county’s resilience and sustainability. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions reinforced the vulnerability of the county’s food system to shocks and stresses and impacted the availability and access to affordable food as well as livelihoods across the food value chain, especially for informal and other small and medium enterprises.
Day four of the training provided a feedback session from the trainees; charting the way forward on post training action plan.
Speaker after speaker representing the groups attested to the fact that the training was a revelation on the best practices in doing business. Most of them admitted that before the training they lacked information on public health regulations, access to credit facilities requirements, formation of associations and food preservation methods. Some of the sentiments were as follows:
Lilian Atieno a street food vendor from Nyalenda appreciated that the skills learnt will go a long way in helping them improve their businesses. However, she developed interest on food preservation demonstrations, which she said needed more time to learn.
Lydia Odek from Nyamasaria said she was captivated by the idea of sustainable waste management aspects of reduce, re-use and recycle which she admitted would help them in reducing food loss. On access to credit, she urged the participants to form associations that will assist them access credit from the county government to boost their businesses.
“I have learnt that personal hygiene and cleanliness of my business surrounding will attract customers. We should therefore be role model to other women street vendors on matters hygiene,” said Gladys Atieno from Corner Legio, Kondele.
Pamela Otieno a vegetable vendor in Nyamasaria said they have relied on the turbid and polluted water from River Nyamasaria to wash their vegetables and waste disposal done along the drainage. She requested for extension of clean-piped water and bins for waste disposal.
Lucy Adhiambo from Nyalenda was pleased to share her experience, how she has started implementing the act of savings. “You have taught us how to fish. I usually give my son Ksh 50 for lunch at school, and now that they are on holidays for six weeks, after being taught on savings, I have started saving the money daily , when schools open I will not have to use money from the business but I will have saved for his lunch for next term” said Lucy.
Dr. Abel Otieno from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University who graced the session, emphasized to the participants on the significance of personal hygiene in business. He implored on them to adopt waste management technologies such as reduce, re-use and recycle as a way of earning more income and challenged them to put into practice the skills learnt.
On his part, Professor George Onyango of Maseno University applauded the women street food vendors for working closely with the county government saying their learning process has provided input for policy development. He urged them to ensure the pilot program works for a better Kisumu.
The way forward is implementing the post training action plan, which outlines aspects of group formation, provision of support items (apron, umbrella, vending stand), development of policy framework for street food vendors, and inspection of food hygiene aspects.
The training organized by Mr. Jacob Wambaya of Practical Action and Erick Ogadho of County Government of Kisumu/ FAO Coordinator had facilitators namely: Mr. Daniel Owino, Mr. James Samo, Mr. Okello Harrison, Mr. Fredrick Oduor, Madam Monica Aluoch, Jaqueline Mueni, Rita Martina, Anne Gacheri, and Rosemary Ochiewo