Resources and training
An effective consumer affairs programme must be managed by a food control agency that has a clear mandate to ensure safe food for the public and the necessary human resources to operate the programme. When the programme is initiated, individuals or groups within the national organization need to be trained on the basic aspects and operation of a consumer education programme so they can impart new knowledge, attitudes and skills. This training must be shared with other officers at the level where the actual education and participation are expected to occur.
Organizations in developing countries usually face many constraints in relation to human resources, especially lack of expertise and frequent transfers and movement of officers within and out of the organization. Sometimes, staff members have an unenthusiastic attitude towards the introduction of any new programme Hence, in addition to a long-term personnel plan, staff training is necessary at regular intervals.
Materials must be available to support an educational programme; they may include magazines, newsletters, booklets, pamphlets, posters, calendars, audio and video cassettes, training manuals and syllabi. The suitability and quality of the materials, their appeal to the target groups, and quantities and distribution needed for the desired coverage and impact should be considered. It may be more cost effective to produce these materials centrally, but where diverse local conditions are expected, local production which accounts for local needs will be more acceptable to consumers.
Adequate funds needed to obtain all of the above can come from the agency's budget or be shared with other sectors. On a long-term note, some selected functions may be privatized to increase the efficiency and acceptability of the programme. In many situations financial resources are lacking or the organization tends to overstretch those that are available. During the wait for more adequate resources, the existing ones should be used optimally so that time is not wasted in starting the desired change.
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