Jehovaness Zacharia, Program officer at the Tanzania Consumers Advocacy Society (TCAS), talks about her experience in the Rhoda Karpatkin Advocate Program with Consumers International.
I had number of meetings with CI staff and other people from CI member organisations and learnt a lot, I mean a lot, of new things. I got clarity on some issues that were not clear to me and identified new ways to conceptualise ideas – how different. Like when ones talks of ‘Marketing of food to children’ in my country for example (and I believe in other parts of Africa too), one would refer to the marketing of food with low in nutrition; while here, and in other developed countries, it refers to junk food.
I attended a number of informative meetings with people working on issues of Food and Nutrition, Financial Services and Education, Sustainable Consumption and how to conduct and manage a campaign.
I have been amazed at how much people have done in the UK in regards to consumer related campaigns and the whole issue of consumer protection. And I am learning best practices and techniques in protecting consumers’ rights, which is who runs the economy but is the group which is mostly neglected.
I hope when I get back to my country I will have learnt lots and I will be able to implement the good practices gained through the Rhoda Karpatkin programme.
For a developing country to win this battle – if I can call it a battle – we need to congregate our efforts in addressing consumers’ issues. And special call is made to my neighbours in East African countries. These countries have done tremendously well and we have a lot to learn from them.
I applaud CI and Consumer Union’s efforts in building the capacity of consumer organisations in developing countries.
It’s everyone’s duty to bring changes to consumer rights protection – consumers, authorities, manufacturers and consumer organisations. Together we can do it!