Socio-economic and hygienic aspects of street food vending in Maseru City, Lesotho
AbstractStreet food vending is a growing phenomenon in many countries and contributes to the livelihoods of many people. However, the safety of the foods is often a cause for concern because the environment in which they operate is usually unhygienic, leading to contamination. The objectives of this study were to assess the socio-economic contribution of street foods in Maseru and to assess the hygienic practices of the vendors in the city. A cross-sectional study was done by interviewing the street food vendors using a semi-structured questionnaire focusing on the contribution of food vending to the economy, and the hygienic practices of the food vendors. One hundred street vendors were interviewed at the Maseru Market, Manonyane bus stop, Mafafa market, Metro taxi rank, Sefika taxi rank as well as outside the Ministry of Health Government Office Complex. The majority of the vendors [77%] were women. Fifty three per cent of the vendors were in age range of 25-30 years and street food vending was the main source of income. About 51% reported profits above 100 Maloti [@US$13] per day. The main types of food items sold were papa [thick maize meal porridge], boiled vegetables [moroho], roasted chicken, pork or beef, and beef stew. The vendors operated from makeshift structures and had no running water. All the street vendors used buckets for washing hands after visiting the toilet and before handling food. Fifty two percent of the vendors operated the street food vending business on individual basis. It was concluded that while street food vending in Maseru can be viable, the hygienic practices need to be improved. It is recommended the government and local authorities should assist vendors with appropriate shelters, running water, and electricity to improve the quality of food.