Saving Local Fresh Markets to ensure access to healthy foods for urban residents

                                                              

Saving Local Fresh Markets to ensure access to healthy foods for urban residents

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Solution proposed by: 
HealthBridge Vietnam
In a Nutshell: 
An advocacy campaign by HealthBridge Vietnam to show the importance of fresh markets in Hanoi for the local economy, livelihoods, health, and the environment.The aim was to change attitudes among decision-makers and ensure the survival of markets as a relevant and positive aspect of life in the city.
Where and When: 
Hanoi, Vietnam, 2011-2013
Challenges: 
In low- and middle-income countries, local fresh markets provide a critical place for urban residents to access healthy fresh foodat affordable prices. Local fresh markets are also public places of social interaction between customers and sellers, which provides an important urban and rural connection. The markets offer many employment opportunities, especially ensuring livelihoods for women and the poor. Nevertheless, in many cities, supermarkets and commercial centres are replacing the markets as governments pursue modernisation strategies and are influenced by developers with their real estate plans.Protecting and preserving local fresh markets is critical for the livability of cities.
Innovation: 
There has been very little attention paid to the importance of local fresh markets in Vietnam, which made them vulnerable to development.HealthBridge Vietnam conducted a multi-faceted campaign involving research, creating a multi-sectoral network, working with the media to articulate the importance of the traditional markets to their way of life.By conducing the campaign we were able to increase the number of organizations that publicly supported the protection and preservation of the local markets, raise awareness among policy makers of the importance of the markets, and ultimately saved the markets from destruction
Concept: 
“Food Environments” refer to what food is available in a community and how people are able to access that food. The food environment plays an important role in encouraging people to eat healthy foods. If all that is available and affordable in a neighbourhood is unhealthy food, the people living in that neighbourhood are more likely to have an unhealthy diet. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are on the rise throughout the world, including in Vietnam. NCD prevention strategies need to address the ways our cities are built to promote or discourage healthy behaviours. In low- and middle- income countries, the introduction of the western-style supermarket is impacting the traditional markets and small local retail food outlets and is forcing many to close. Sadly, it is often government policy forcing the closure of traditional fresh markets. In Hanoi, the “Draft Plan of the Retail and Wholesale Network” outlines the government proposal to replace traditional markets with supermarkets and shopping centres. In order to address this issue, policy-makers and professionals to needed to understand the importance of the fresh markets in Hanoi. Such campaigns can lead to policies that value, protect, and preserve the markets. \
Description: 
The campaign was started in 2011 and lasted until 2014. To organize the campaign, we collected evidence to understand the nature of the problem, and to identify the ways in which local markets are important in Hanoi. We interviewed vendors and customers to understand the impact of the redevelopment of Hanoi’s public markets into private commercial space on quality of life. We also conducted desk research to develop arguments on the importance of markets to urban life quality and make our recommendations to reserve and develop urban fresh markets. We then turned the research into illustrated written materials that could be distributed to policymakers, local experts, and the media in order to educate people about why the markets are an integral part of the city. In addition, a documentary was produced and used as an advocacy tool with local policymakers.We collaborated with Trade Magazine to organize a roundtable and a workshop where professionals of various fields including an economist, historians, culturist, urban planners and public health experts presented their points of view to preserve the market network in the city. We conducted one-on-one meetings with professionals and government officers to discuss about bad impacts of the Government policy to replace markets by commercial centres and our recommendations. Finally, an intensive media effort was organized before and during the 2012 Mid-year Session of the city People’s Council.During this time three major online newspapers ran 22 articles about the issue while an additional 20 articles were run in other newspapers.They created public pressure and there was a interpellation about the policy to removing markets at the Session. The Director of Hanoi Department of Trade and Industry also had to have an interview on the issue with the media
Impacts: 
To what extent it has contributed to the sustainability of the urban context? Our campaign had led to positive policy changes regarding the markets in Hanoi. The impacts were as follows: Increased public pressure – we gave a voice to Hanoian people to request the Government to reconsider the policy of replacing marketsImproved awareness of policy makers on values and needs of preserving fresh markets. Saved markets – although there was not a complete ban on redeveloping markets, we decreased the number of markets turned into commercial centers, rental offices and private buildings. In total: • 2700 vendors’ livelihoods were saved • 270,000 people can continue to access healthy fresh food close to home at affordable prices.

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