The last two weeks I have travelled around the Mombasa area. I have found great contrasts, both in business as well as in the living standards.
We visited potential suppliers to WFP and assessed their facilities on food safety aspects. We found some facilities were at a very good level, but others where a quality system was not in place, there was a lot of room for improvement. I found that it takes only a few people in the organization to determine what level the quality standards will be.
Just one man with an ambition and position to reach a good quality standard makes a huge difference.
A lot of labor is still being done manually. We encountered manual packaging and weighing of 2 kg flour bags. Also harvesting of raw salt from seawater evaporators was done by digging and carrying it in big baskets. On the one hand, this creates jobs, but on the other hand working conditions are tough.
The last days I stayed in a beautifully located hotel at the beach in Mombasa. This was in strong contrast to the mothers I saw sleeping in the streets with their very young children huddled closely together or the families living off the garbage dumps trying to find something to eat.
It made me wonder how my life would have been if I had been born on another continent.
This morning we wanted to visit some of the companies that had applied to be potential suppliers to WFP. As we could not get through to them by phone or by their addresses which they gave to us. Trying to find the places was quite a challenge—just to find the streets we needed the aid of the GPS on our mobile phones. But as there is no system for street numbering in Mombasa we just needed to look and ask people on the street for the companies. Unfortunately, we did not find a trace of either of them. This lack of infrastructure is hurting the economic growth as was demonstrated with our efforts today.