Street-food vending in developing countries is one of the most common job for urban poor, both migrant job-seekers and urban unemployed. This micro-entrepreneurial activity is mostly conducted in a tolerated but informal sector. Vendors distribute affordable goods and services to consumers and form a vital part of the social and economic life of a city. However, street food vending represents also a source of major public health issues. The main concern is a general lack of knowledge of street vendors in basic food safety measures. Moreover, the risks to public health are exacerbated by poor hygiene, inadequate access to clean water and waste disposal, and unhealthy surroundings. International organizations such as the FAO and the WHO have repeatedly pointed out the urgency of addressing concerns related to street vending in developing countries.
The aim of this project is to investigate whether, and why, self-regulation - in terms of improvements of hygienic standards and health hazards - might take place among street-food vendors in urban India. The project will take place in Kolkata and it will be based on a RCT on about 930 street-food vendors. Vendors will be eligible to attend a training program aimed at building their capacity to make such improvements.
The training is designed in collaboration with Innoaid, a nongovernment organization (NGO) from Denmark, following WHO's guidelines aimed at: i) enhance vendors' awareness of health risks related to food vending (foodborne illnesses) 1 ; ii) building their capacity to make the necessary improvements in food-quality - specifically, the training will focus on a set of tools as: importance of hands cleaning, vendors' personal hygiene, use of containers for water, food covering, availability of paper plates and cups, waste management and business practices -. A careful field data collection before, during and after the training - will allow testing the effect of the training on vendors' behaviors in terms of food safety hazards and on their overall performances.
At the end of the training, vendors will be randomly allocated to different treatments to test which incentives drive self-regulatory behaviours - namely Treatment groups 1, 2, 3, and Control group. T1 will only receive the training, and it represents our baseline treatment. T2, in addition of the training, receives some promotional material related to the content of the training. As this "signal" is visible to the clients, we might expect a higher impact of the training due to reputational effects. Finally, T3 tests whether monetary incentive can drive a change. Specifically, vendors are eligible to receive a monetary reward depending upon their ability to improve their performance in terms of hygiene and health hazards.