Energy and street food vendors

Energy and street food vendors
Authors (non HEDON members)
Leonard Tedd, Naved Ahmed Chowdhury, Susil Liyanarachchi
The activity of selling food on the streets forms a large part of the informal sector in urban areas worldwide. It is undertaken by entrepreneurial women and men, and more often run with the assistance of their families than paid labour. Their businesses are typically irregular, unstable and marginal. The concept of a street food vendor covers a broad range of activities. In Bangladesh, those who earn least are tea sellers, whose income is very low, but who require a daily working capital of less than 200 Bangladesh Taka (£2.50) to set up each morning (Figure 1). The most extensive operations comprise vendors offering a variety of foods; for example a vendor in Sri Lanka selling lunch packets, fried rice, meat and vegetable curries requires 4500 Sri Lanka Rupees (£35) to start his day’s work.There is currently a project being run by the ITDG country offices in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and UK into the energy needs of street food vendors, and funded by the UK government Department for International Development (DFID). This is an integrated project, bridging the areas of household energy and small enterprise. Previous studies of street food vendors have typically focused on the health factors of their products, and urban energy studies have either been concerned with non-commercial household activities or planning issues at a macro level. Street food vendors use energy for cooking, lighting and transport. This project has focussed on the energy aspect of cooking.

As there was a deficit of baseline data, the first phase of the project has involved collecting information which will give an insight into this sector and lead to identification of possible interventions to improve livelihoods.Street food vending is not an easy task. In Sri Lanka, 38% of those surveyed spent more than 15 hours on the street selling food every day. This does not include time spent in transport, in preparation at home, or in procuring ingredients and fuel (Figure 3). Also significant is that a typical street food vendor has been involved in this type of work for several years; in Sri Lanka 70% had been in the business for more than five years. This relatively long period of time suggests a proven capacity to sustain themselves in this informal trade.

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Title in French
Energie et vendeur d’aliments préparés dans les rues
Abstract in French
La vente d’aliments préparés dans les rues est le principal gagne pain pour des millions de personnes vivant en milieu urbain. Ce projet d’ITDG a révélé que ce métier exige de longues heures de travail, est souvent une affaire familiale et n’est pas, en général, formellement reconnu. La contribution à la restauration des plats écoulés par les vendeurs de rue est significative et demande une quantité d’énergie importante qui pourrait être diminuée avec le recours à des équipements plus performants. Lesprincipaux résultats de ce projet seront diffusés, entre autres, aux décideurs politiques.

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010 Stoves
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012 Cooking
BoilingPoint47    StreetVendors    Bangladesh    SriLanka   

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  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

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