Editor’s note: This is one of a series of posts by students from Michigan State University in the U.S. and LUANAR University in Malawi who participated in the Frugal Innovations Program of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.
By Mexford Mulumpwa
The observations that I made from our meeting with the market chair and his committee are lack of transparency on the part of the city council officials, sanitation, security and resource constraints challenges.
The issue of transparency by the city council was the main issue brought to our attention. The market committee reported that in the past (over 20 years ago) the city council reported back to them how much annually was collected from the market as fees.
The city council also reported what percentage has been used in the market services such as sanitation and on maintenance work. This percentage was agreed upon by the two parties at the beginning of the year.
The committee would like this sort of transparency to be restored. The market committee believes that with this transparency most of the problems in the market requiring maintenance would have been solved with ease.
The sanitation was generally poor in the markets as it was communicated that the health department in the city council is not as vibrant as it used to be with very few monitoring patrols made to the small restaurants in the market. The market committee reported that in the past the health department was more functional than now. They could close down all unhygienic restaurants and confiscate and destroy fresh fish when they went bad to protect the health of consumers.
It was also report that the clean and refuse removal rate has declined remarkably. The market committee also reported that the drainage system has not been maintained for so quite long that it is completely blocking water runoff during the rainy season. This makes customers buy from vendors outside the market rather than risking the unhygienic conditions within it.
The market committee lamented that the central market has no security lights to aid the guard patrols at night.
They also reported that the fence of the market is dilapidated as at some points they just put plank boards to keep out thieves at night.
The market committee reported that most vendors would like to expand their business but it is difficult to get financial resources to enable them to realize their wishes. The reasons is that the loans offered by banks and other financial institution have very high interest rates, as much as 35 percent. that has put some vendors in more problems than they had before. They suggested that government could facilitate provision of soft loans to help vendors expand their businesses.