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Today was another heads-down working day for the teams. Our sub-team, working on food safety, spent the morning working on two broad areas. First, we reviewed the materials which we had gathered so far, noting areas where we felt we needed more information. This resulted in a set of questions which we submitted by e-mail to our counter-parts in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. More on that in a moment.
The second area we spent time discussing was a brainstorming session on what our first draft set of recommendations should be for improving food safety for the city of Da Nang. Keep in mind here that the current food supply chain works very different from most western areas. In countries such as the United States, the food supply chain relies heavily on refrigeration in order to keep food fresh as it travels from where it is processed to where it is sold and eventually consumed. In Da Nang, the food delivery system relies on “fast and fresh”. Particularly for meat products, live animals are brought in daily into slaughterhouses which are located within the city. From here, food moves very quickly from farm to table, much of it without the benefit of refrigeration. Because of this, time to market is incredibly important. With this in mind, we are considering what recommendations are appropriate for the city of Da Nang to consider.
A word about communication. This is the first time that I have had the need to work through an interpreter for both spoken and written communication. While this can be very frustrating at times, it is also amazing that we can make effective progress using these means. This is a credit to our great interpreters who are doing a marvelous job of providing both spoken interpretation during meetings and written interpretation as we send text correspondence to one another. My thanks to them!
Our afternoon was spent in a combined meeting of the food safety, water management, and transportation teams. We each reviewed our progress so far, what has gone well, what challenges we have faced, and indicated our preliminary findings. We also discussed the intersections and cross-cutting issues which have impacts across all of the teams. One very interesting aspect is that food, transportation, and water are all inter-related. Further, it is clear that both food and water, as well as transportation have very big requirements on energy production and the need for a reliable energy supply. At the end of the afternoon's meeting, we were comfortable with our progress so far – though there is much left to do! We had the pleasure of meeting with the IBM Country General Manager (CGM) for Vietnam – Vo Tan Long. He gave us some really good insights from his experience working with other ESC and CSC teams who have been in Vietnam in the past.
The team elected to have a relaxing dinner at a restaurant in Da Nang which has the goal of helping deaf residents of Vietnam. Because it is difficult for the deaf to communicate, they often find it difficult to live in the country. This restaurant offers them a good job, lessons in reading, writing, and sign language, and even a place to live. The staff is very friendly and the food (western style: burgers and pizza) is really fantastic. If you're in Da Nang and just want a good pizza, check out Bread of Life.