Orange carts – Dhaka, Bangladesh

Key Insights

  • Safe street food
  • Food safety training
  • Food-borne disease reduction


Street food is an important source of healthy, convenient food in Dhaka, but contamination is rife – due partly to the design of the carts and partly poor education of the vendors. In 2016 a fleet of distinctive new ‘kamala’ (orange) street food carts was introduced, specially designed to protect food from flies and pollution and equipped with clean water, hand sanitiser, and serviettes. The new carts are available for purchase only by vendors who have completed food safety training and passed tests. With more than 260 kamala carts now in operation, incidence of food-borne disease in Dhaka has declined.


This case study version is from the Menu of Actions (2019). Suggested citation: Halliday, J., Platenkamp, L., Nicolarea, Y. (2019) A menu of actions to shape urban food systems for improved nutrition, GAIN, MUFPP and RUAF.

Street vendors in Dhaka (Bangladesh), Shutterstock/Md Shanjir Hossain

The action and its aims

In Dhaka, orange carts are used only by street food vendors who have completed food safety training and passed a series of physical and mental tests. They have become a symbol for good food safety and hygiene practices. The aim of such distinctive carts is to help customers identify the safest sources of street food.

When it was introduced

The carts – known locally as ‘kamala’, the Bengali word for orange – were introduced in 2016.

Why it was needed

Street vendors provide convenient, cheap food in the city, but investigations have shown rampant contamination, unsanitary practices and poor education of vendors. Traditional carts are ill-equipped and are open, exposing food to dust, flies and air pollution. The new, enclosed carts are equipped with clean water, hand sanitisers and serviettes.

Who initiated it, who is involved

The carts are part of the food safety training programme, run by the FAO and Dhaka North- and Dhaka South Corporations (local governments), and funded by the Dutch government. Qualified vendors may purchase a kamala cart for around USD570.

Impacts to date

More than 260 kamala carts are in operation in Dhaka. Early evaluations indicate a reduction in food-borne disease incidence since the new carts hit the streets.

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