In a practical effort to ensure the highest hygiene standards are maintained, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) formally handed 50 sanitation buckets to the City of Windhoek last week.
The buckets will be distributed among vendors at trading markets as part of maintaining the highest level of hygiene.
The acting UNICEF country representative Marcus Betts said at an event held at the Khomasdal open market that food vending is common in cities and neighbourhoods but there is concern that this causes a strain on basic services such as water and sanitation. “Many challenges confront the food vending industry in Namibia,” noted Betts.
“Food preparation can all too easily be done in unclean and unhygienic ways, and serving and storage facilities may sometimes not be sanitary while the food vendors themselves often neglect to practise hand washing diligently,” Betts remarked.
He added that eating unsafe food could easily affect the stomach and intestines leading to typhoid, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and different diarrheal diseases.
Making reference to the cholera outbreak in 2013 and 2014 which claimed 20 lives from the reported 600 cases, Betts said the limited access to good sanitation infrastructure as well as open air food vending and unhygienic handling of food have been identified as some of the reasons why cholera was able to spread.
“Research tells that diarrheal diseases contribute hugely to malnutrition and deaths of children under five years,” said Betts. Furthermore, Betts said hand washing with soap or ash can reduce the risk of diarrhea by up to 47 percent, according to research.
“It is now befitting that these market areas now have added resources to ensure that food vendors and the consumers are able to wash their hands before handling food. Improved safety of food can be achieved through this basic, economical and easy practice of hand washing with soap,” said Betts.
In addition, he said, 27 food vendors who formally had no formal training in food hygiene and safety were trained by the City of Windhoek and UNICEF.
City of Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua who received the buckets on behalf of the vendors said the City of Windhoek has to date constructed 16 markets in strategically located sites in Windhoek. The mayor also requested the vendors to take care of the buckets.