CO-REDESIGNING LOCAL FRESH MARKETS: INNOVATIVE IDEAS FROM MUNICIPAL COLLECTIVE OF SERVICE DESIGNERS
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The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted local food production and transport, resulting in food shortage, price hikes and food insecurity in many areas including the southern border provinces. Across the region, accessibility to healthy and quality food is insufficient due to the lack of inclusive and accessible platforms for both consumers and producers. In this instance, however, local fresh markets offer an accessible physical platform option with immediate and lasting benefits for shoppers and the community-at-large. They are an essential service in supporting local producers and providing communities access to fresh food. Hence, local markets during the pandemic should ensure that appropriate measures are implemented and maintained responding to the rapid development of COVID-19 situation in each area. It is necessary for owners/operators of local fresh markets such as municipalities, vendors to review existing procedures and site-specific operations to adapt and comply with local health requirements. More importantly, the pandemic highlighted the needs for post-COVID markets to be sustainably and inclusively redesigned in collaboration with producers, customers, and local authorities in order for them to reach their full potentials and tackle challenges of the local food system in the new normal era.
Since early 2021, UNDP in Thailand has been developing a portfolio on social innovation for strengthening local governance, community resilience and social cohesion in southern Thailand’s local food systems for responsive covid-19 service delivery under the so-called “Social Innovation Platform”. Seeking for shared value across various stakeholders are key to the platform approach. With abovementioned situation, UNDP in collaboration with Yala Municipality and Baramizi Lab are organizing a co-creation workshop on “Collaborative Transformation of Local Fresh Market in the New Normal Era” aiming for Municipalities and their constituencies in the southern border provinces to explore fresh market development trends in the New Normal era, be introduced to a fresh market transformation process and unconventional engagement tools, and learn from the case of the Muang Mai Market under the Yala Municipality who is an early adopter of this local social innovation platform journey.
Not only responding to COVID-19, but also creating a long-term recovery pathway, this effort is centered on creating a food seller-buyer association to involve multiple local stakeholders in collaborative management of local markets with a focus on promotion of remedial financial/non-financial mechanisms for the vulnerable who are affected by the violence, poverty, hunger, and the pandemic. The participatory redesign of local fresh markets is civic-state driven and adapted to local context which can translate and upscale to mainstream in the regional and national level through a highly committed advocacy network of local governments such as the National Municipal League of Thailand.