Combating Foodborne Illness through Farmer Education and Food Sanitation

  • Community Growth
  • Education
  • Health
  • Guinea
This project is led by Michael Hunter, a Volunteer from Indiana

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A community-led initiative will address the prevalence of preventable livestock diseases, the unsanitary conditions in which butchers operate, and the lack of education on food sanitation. The project will be carried out in three separate arenas. First, the regional veterinarian will lead a livestock vaccination promotional campaign across all eight local districts. He will facilitate discussions with local farmers on the importance of vaccinating livestock against preventable diseases. Specifically, he will discuss how to properly recognize and deal with an outbreak of anthrax in preparation for the national distribution of bovine anthrax vaccines in December 2019. Second, the community will construct a public butchery in the market area to house the town’s butchers, who currently operate in unsanitary open-air market stalls. The new building is designed to make the selling of meats a hygienic process so as to prevent foodborne illness and promote proper food hygiene. The butchers will receive training on how to maintain proper food safety while working. Third, local health professionals will give educational talks on food safety and proper nutrition in the primary and secondary schools (1st - 10th grade) to teach students about the importance of a balanced diet and food hygiene. This project will affect the majority of the 18,000 residents of the sub-prefecture, most of whom depend upon the large market for their weekly groceries.

The community has been the driving force behind this plan from the beginning, initiating the discussion for a project based on the assessed needs of the people. Local officials have led the way in setting up the project for success. The community contracted an architect to design the new butchery, organized merchants and craftsmen to provide materials and labor, worked with the government to obtain educational materials, and more. With the pledged financial support of over 30 percent of the budget, the community is fully behind the project. The Director of Livestock Management and the regional veterinarian have spearheaded the planning for the farmer education and livestock vaccination promotional campaign. The regional veterinarian has volunteered his time to visit all eight districts to educate farmers ahead of the planned national vaccination campaign against anthrax in December 2019. In the fall of 2016, a national nongovernmental organization helped the community to create a “Local Development Plan” for 2017-2021. In this plan the community recognized the current unsanitary conditions for butchers and planned for the construction of a designated public butchery. The stated steps to realize this goal are: mobilize local financial resources, develop a partnership with technical and financial partners, search for financing, and implementation of the project.

The Director of Health at the local health center, in tandem with other health professionals, local teachers, and the Volunteer, are developing the food safety and nutrition curriculum which will be taught to school children. The health professionals themselves will lead the educational sessions. In all aspects of the implementation of the project, local professionals will organize and lead the planned activities. The Volunteer will be available to provide support in whatever capacity is needed. The relevant authorities will discuss the possibility of doing similar campaigns every year in order to reinforce the ideas and information in the minds of the population if the educational sessions go well. As community members will be the people leading the programs, they will be in prime position to lead similar ones even after the Volunteer has completed service.

For the butchery the Sub-Prefectural Director of Livestock Management will enact a rigorous maintenance schedule with the butchers to keep the building clean and in good shape. The slaughterhouse has a similar plan which the butchers have followed since its construction in 2004. For every animal that they slaughter, the butchers pay a small tax that goes into a fund used to buy cleaning supplies and other necessary materials for keeping the slaughterhouse clean. This same system will be applied to the new butchery. If a butcher fails to follow the standards or complete his responsibilities, the butcher will be suspended from working until he/she agrees to follow the requirements. In addition, for every animal that is sold in Matakaou a small percentage of the sale goes to the community of Matakaou. Money will be drawn from this fund in order to make any major repairs that may be necessary in the future, as is currently done for other public buildings. Refrigeration will not be installed in the butchery due to the lack of access to reliable electricity sources. This removes many of the worries associated with electric appliances and technology. However, the simple design of the building could support the installation of refrigeration in the future when the infrastructure makes it more feasible.

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