Safe and resilient food markets


Most consumers in low-income countries purchase their food from informal markets. Understanding the rapidly changing situation of informal markets under COVID19 is vital to keeping food markets open. To do so, we will assess the availability of nutritious food, health safety information and the resilience of consumers and vendors to help ensure nutritious safe food is accessible while also generating vital knowledge for further programming  and investment around safe and resilient nutritious food markets in the time of COVID-19.

GAIN’s footprint in this workstream


  • Establishment of local market response teams to assess consumer and vendor perceptions of the health and safety of the market under COVID19.
  • Assess the physical state, resilience and functioning of markets and market actors as well as price fluctuations of tracer nutritious foods under COVID-19 and commission a human-centered design assessment of markets to help determine ‘smart’ market infrastructure grounded in vendor and consumer needs and behaviours.  
  • Pilot elements of a smart market design in a select location with input and support from local market actors and policy makers

Description of the workstream


The safe and resilient food markets workstream will mitigate pandemic related risks in the short term and make traditional markets safer and more resilient in the long-term. Working with local stakeholders and considering consumer and vendor insights related to the functioning of the market under COVID-19, this work will help mitigate health and safety risks in two prioritised markets in 5 countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh). 

  • This workstream will determine urgent risks and opportunities to improve the food and health safety of informal markets and work with local market authorities to initiate measures to strengthen safe market infrastructure and architecture. 
  • We will develop guidance to inform actions for safe, resilient markets, and engage in dialogue with relevant stakeholders and experts nationally and internationally to improve knowledge and skills to manage safe and resilient markets. 
  • Leveraging the insights of these activities, we will commission a human-centered design for a safe and resilient food market and pilot interventions in selected locations. 

With these measures, we intend to show that it is possible to operate markets safely and avoid the risk of closures.

Key takeaway message 


By understanding current consumer and vendor perceptions and knowledge of the market as well as how they interact with its infrastructure during a health crisis, we can help to mitigate immediate and longer-term health and food safety risks into the future. Further, the insights gained can empower markets to stay open during the crisis and emerge from it with stronger health and safety operations.

Facts & figures about this workstream


  • In poorer countries with limited supermarket penetration, people rely on more traditional forms of retail such – over 90% of fruit and vegetable produced in low-income countries are sold by traditional small retailers
  • Restrictions on markets, goods circulation, food loss, and stockpiling has created shortages in the market.
  • Real and perceived risks have reduced demand and eroded market operational resilience.

Geographic coverage


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