Informal workers – street traders, waste pickers, etc. – are some of the poorest and most vulnerable workers in the world, despite their significant contributions to local economies and cultural life. AeT works locally and globally to promote inclusive urban planning and design and empower informal workers to become co-developers of their working environments.
Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) is based in Durban, South Africa and it’s offices are located in the Warwick Junction area. Durban – and South Africa – is still working to overcome the effects apartheid policies and practices. The impacts of the economic and spatial divisions created in South Africa cities can still be seen in areas like Warwick Junction – inner city districts whose physical and human resources were abandoned and ignored by apartheid governments. With the end of apartheid, Durban struggled to cope with an urban environment completely misaligned with the realities facing the large and growing informal economy that had flourished during the apartheid years.
Today, informal work and the informal economy are a feature of Durban’s inner city life. Street vendors, informal recyclers, food sellers, among others, work in both high-visibility areas of the city – like busy downtown intersections – or more discrete public spaces like those around neglected urban infrastructure. The Warwick Junction area – a central downtown transport and commercial node – is home to nine historic markets that provide livelihoods for thousands of informal workers and related businesses. AeT is located in the Warwick Junction market area and carries out a number of local programs and projects targeting local stakeholders, including informal traders and other workers, urban professionals, tourists, students, and local officials. While programs have reach across the city, AeT’s office also provide a co-educational learning hub – a place for face-to-face interaction, engagement and co-learning in the heart of a busy informal market environment.
Learn more about Warwick Junction and Durban’s informal workers.
Globally, the informal economy is an increasingly important source of livelihood for poor workers and their dependents, especially the disproportionate number of women that make their living in informal sectors and occupations. From a planning perspective, informal workers provide the urban poor with goods and services in appropriate quantities and forms, and at times of the day, and in parts of the city, that contribute to the functioning of cities. Lastly, from an economic perspective, although individual incomes are often low, these activities cumulatively contribute significantly to local economies. In spite of their size, importance and contributions, the informal economy is largely excluded from planning and policy processes, and this exclusion is often entrenched in negative preconceptions around informal work related to their operation in the (often contested) public space or on the margins, with little or no legal ‘claim’ to the space that they occupy.
Asiye eTafuleni works internationally to support greater visibility and voice for informal workers in global economic and policy informal economy. Asiye eTafuleni is a partner in the Inclusive Cities project. Inclusive Cities is a collaboration of membership-based organizations (MBOs) of the working poor, international alliances of MBOs and support organizations working together as partners to reduce urban poverty and reversing the current exclusionary trend of many modernizing cities. Launched in late 2008, Inclusive Cities aims to strengthen MBOs in the areas of organizing, policy analysis and advocacy in order to help urban informal workers have a representative voice in governance, planning, and budgeting processes, and have access to secure and dignified livelihoods, affordable housing and basic services such as water/sanitation and electricity supply.
Learn more about the Inclusive Cities project.
Learn more about some of our global partners here:
- Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (Global)
- StreetNet International (Global)
- AVINA (Latin America)
- HomeNet South Asia
- HomeNet South East Asia
- KKPKP (India)
- Self-Employed Women’s Association (India)