Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Rhoda Karpatkin advocate says it's different in Tanzania

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 arrived in London three weeks ago and I could not believe how warmly CI staff received me, I thought only Tanzanians were that warm and kind! I was proved wrong on that!

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!

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