An ethical assessment of street food vending in Lusaka's Central Business District

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Sambo, Cleopas Gabriel
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University of Zambia
With high unemployment and soaring poverty levels, many Zambians live precarious lives. Consequently, street vending, and food vending in particular, is seen by many as a way out of poverty and into sustainable livelihoods. The aim of this study was to make an ethical assessment of street food vending (SFV) in Zambia. SFV has numerous benefits, among them the provision of affordable nutrition to urban populations while enhancing socio-economic livelihoods of vendors. Yet, it has serious public health risks, especially when poorly regulated. Based on their willingness to participate in the study, a total of 33 food vendors and 15 customers were selected into the study sample. Of the 33 food vendors, 20 were selected from the areas around bus stations while 13 were selected from the streets of the central business district. Purposive sampling was used to select two key informants, one from the Lusaka District Health Management Team (LDHMT) and the other from the Public Health Department of the Lusaka City Council. Methods used involved in-depth interviews and observation for primary data collection and while secondary data were obtained from published sources through a literature review. Data were analyzed to identify patterns of emergent themes and an ethical evaluation was conducted using utilitarianism, human rights and ethics of care. The findings revealed that vended foods included fruit, raw vegetables, cooked meats and wild roots eaten for relish. SVF was found to be a viable socio-economic activity providing gainful employment to populations with limited education and skills. However, the limited education demonstrated by food vendors implied a corresponding lack of basic skills in food safety and hygiene. This was confounded by the usually unsanitary vending areas. Government’s position is that SFV is illegal and therefore not subject to standardization, a situation which precludes any remedial policies. This study also established that children of school going age are involved in street food vending under conditions which constitute child labour. With regard to the ethical assessment, utilitarian evaluation showed that the overall benefits of street food vending outweighed the risks involved. The rights based evaluation showed that the practice of street food vending is rights enhancing and offers little prospects for abuse of all concerned if properly regulated. Care based evaluation supported this position and showed that regulation would promote a culture of civility and relationships of responsibility among vendors, consumers and officialdom. Consequently, the ethical assessment concluded that street food vending was justified at present even though there is need to properly regulate the practice. The study finally recommended that government should enact regulation that will allow street food vending to flourish within set guidelines. This study contributed to the empirical literature regarding street food vending in Lusaka’s central business district. This would significantly diminish the risks associated with street food vending.
Thesis(MA)-University of Zambia,2015
Food Industry and trade--Zambia , Vending Stands--Zambia , Markets--Zambia , Food vendors--Zambia