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IV Role of municipal/national authorities

IV Role of municipal/national authorities

12. The meeting recognized that one of the most difficult decisions for city authorities was to determine whether or not to allow the informal street food sector to function at all, and then if so, under what conditions. Logically, this decision should depend upon an evaluation of the positive socio-economic and cultural factors in favour of street foods and the potential negative factors including traffic congestion, encroachment on and blocking of pavements, accumulation of filth and garbage and the illicit use of water and electricity. The meeting agreed that the ultimate cost/benefit (or more correctly, cost/effectiveness) analysis would indicate a strong case for recognition of street foods within specified parameters. This might include restricting locations where street foods can be prepared or sold or confining them to particular sales centres, depending upon the local situation. This would involve including provision for street foods within the city's plan and its infrastructure. It could include demarcation of areas for street food vending, and providing adequate space and facilities, such as potable water, garbage disposal services, toilets and the like.

13. While the public health authorities could provide technical guidance and organise monitoring and educational programmes, the main responsibility of bringing about a measure of discipline within the street food trade seems to lie with the local body (including at the highest political level) and the police authorities. A close coordination between various agencies concerned with street food control is essential for orderly development of the street food sector. Such an initiative would necessarily call for active cooperation of street food vendors, through their associations, if such exist.

14. The meeting was of the opinion that before launching a large country-wide street food programme, it might be useful to develop and implement activities on a model "pilot" area basis. Such a project should be developed in consultation between food control, police and city authorities, and vendors. Such activities should include a built-in multi-disciplinary "task force" which could help in ensuring longer term sustainability of benefits. On the completion of such a project, the subsequent evaluation of its impact in terms of food safety and economics should result in a change in the perception of the authorities as to the socio-economic and nutritional benefits of street foods and the feasibility of undertaking a larger programme covering other localities. The meeting appreciated that the whole process required time, the length of which would depend upon the local environment. To further improve the sustainability of the programme, on-going training of local-body officials, mayors and other persons at management levels, was considered necessary so that they continue to be supportive of a role for street food in the city food supply system.

15. The meeting was deeply concerned about the impact of anti-social elements - among which it did not include legitimate vendors' associations - on street food vendors in several parts of the world. This impact was exerted through the levy of some kind of "protection money" required to be paid by vendors, the amount of which was often much more than would be paid legitimately by the vendors to the governmental authorities through licensing. It was felt that national and municipal authorities should take cognizance of such exploitation and undertake suitable remedial measures, perhaps with the help of Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and enlightened members of the community.

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