- Walter S. Mayeku, The University of Nairobi
Mapping Food Spaces for Diseases Control
Food security has been one issue everyone would like to be associated with, ensuring a secure future for the current generation is what we want to achieve through the intensive researches that are happening through research institutions and student based organizations. The major focuses seen in the fields have been centered at sustainable agriculture, food storage, proper usage, clean food and affordability. This is a better idea for the main challenges faced across poor nations and vulnerable societies.
What is the role of mapping in all this development in food security? Definitely, it is evident that mapping plays unreplaceable role in the whole of the important phenomenon; this not limited to but includes elementary mapping of food insecure zones and the general embrace of technology and innovation in ensuring food security.
One skeptical aspect of food security that has left me in a state of inquisitive reasoning is the issue of clean food, its association to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We have definitely encountered reports of disease outbreak calamities and most evident is the common cholera outbreak that often affects African states and in most occasions catastrophic in urban slum areas. The issue of hygiene alone cannot help such crises. When our governments are planning for preventive measures against such cases, what is the most area tackled? We want to establish medical facilities and provide clean food and sufficient education towards the same.
In my view of my mapping as an elementary source of primary data, one of the most observable element of food security is ‘food spaces’. Food spaces are the basic fresh and processed food sources. These are places food can be acquired and include food stores (supermarkets/vendors), fresh farm joints, restaurants and hotels, open markets, road side food kiosks and hawking amongst other sources based on different country cultures.
Policing has been one big step towards providing clean food and water but then we cannot sit on the loose rules and the ignorance within our societies thinking that we are safe from food contamination, poisoning either consciously or unconsciously. This is the sole reason why I can boldly advocate for mapping of food spaces in urban centers and highly populated regions like the refugee camps and institution centers.
Having all these food spaces mapped would help in managing any crisis because of the defined market structure many of these business ventures enjoy. Locally from where am operating from, the midday meal I would consume has clear tracks from its source to the very plate I use. Imagine if all these food joints and spaces would be documented through maps and written attributes, managing any crises during emergencies would be very easy.
The food supply chain has always a clear channel and route in which food is harvested from the farms until it is served on any plate. Mapping these ‘channels’ and joints would help any agency, government or organizations in raising the food value if there is need, providing education to the relevant groups of people and managing the food pricing to ensure affordability and accessibility.
In relation to the same, we wouldn’t explain the complete reason why food insecurity is an issue despite the efforts by governments and organizations to help settle the issue. Analytically, I would shift my argument on unaccountability and unrecorded available food on the markets to the ratios of food produced at the farms. This accountability would definitely help in establishing policies that would have otherwise been unsuccessful because of inaccurate data. This would otherwise be the best strategy to trace any harmful food from the long supply chains which would help in managing any crises or emergency. Letting everyone be accountable for his food chain is an advocacy for clean food supply.
As the family of Youthmappers, mapping is our basic unifying factor and therefore provision of relevant data is one of our pillars. Food security is not a far-fetched idea with unachievable results, we can make it.
Walter S. Mayeku is a student at The University of Nairobi and a member of the YouthMappers Chapter. He is a social entrepreneur and believes that amidst the philosophical reasoning, one has to find an ideology that serves best the interests of the common citizen and his own will.
Mapping gave him more than a professional life to live and he is proud to be a part of the great movement of the YouthMappers.