This past week the Dar team has set out to begin data collection. After three long days in the heat, we had collected data from 22 street vendors and butchers, including quality information on 133 individual samples of fruits, vegetables and meats.
The real MVPs of the data days were our translators Sheila and Gladness. Without their assistance we would likely still be working on conducting our first vendor survey.
The data collection days, and succeeding data digitization days, proved to be a valuable exercise in guiding the remainder of our research. As we reflected on the oversized Excel spreadsheet we now had, we identified a key question that, given a few more specific interviews, onto which we might be able to shed some light.
In our preliminary literature reviewing, a common thread emerged identifying two major roles that the informal food sector plays in a developing urban environment:
- It provides employment options for individuals with restricted skillsets
- It provides food security for the lower socioeconomic classes.
The question emerged as we discussed our data: with Dar es Salaam growing at the rate that it is, will the informal food sector be able to continue to play the roles that it must?
With more data to be collected, and with more conversations to be had, we aim to contribute to the conversation about developing sustainable urban food systems in the face of rapid growth.