Kolkata has a long history of a strong and diverse street food culture. However, despite the socio-economic importance of street food as a means of livelihood as well as an accessible and affordable source of nutrition, the business is constantly threatened by issues of hygiene, harassment from local authorities and failure to comply with regulations such as those set forth in the National Act for Urban Street Vendors, 2014.
The Street Food Vendors’ toolkit programme was initiated in order to find sustainable solutions to enable street food vendors to improve their livelihood, implement better hygiene practices and comply with the norms set forth by regulatory bodies. NGOs Joygopalpur Gram Vikash Kendra and Gana Unnayan Parshad partnered with the Denmark-based InnoAid organization to develop the Street Food Vendors’ Toolkit, which includes open-source designs and training materials related to improvement of workspaces, creation of self help groups, hygiene, sanitation and waste management.
The Street Food Vendors’ Toolkit is a product of an innovative approach of involving the first NGOs to ever work strategically with the street food vendors in Kolkata and developing solutions from a participatory bottom-up-approach. Solutions have been developed from the ideas and aspirations of the vendors themselves, through continues co-creation sessions initiated by a cross-disciplinary project team of academics and practitioners within the field of engineering, business and public health. The project team is working towards both integrating the interests and ideas of the vendors and relevant local policy makers to ensure that the project will build local ownership at the level of implementation as well as to align and influence strategies of the local authorities. Only by meeting the needs and conditions at both street- and state level will the project develop a sustainable model to secure and strengthen the livelihood of the vendors.
Video: Street Food Project Kolkata