Tasmi Quazi is the Research Officer of Asiye eTafuleni (AeT). She has a master’s degree in Development Studies, and a background in architecture and design, particularly community-based approaches. Her master’s thesis titled “Municipal Approaches to Incorporating the Informal Economy into the Urban Fabric: A Case Study of Msunduzi Local Municipality and Hibiscus Coast Municipality” has been instrumental in her work at AeT as it has served to develop a systematic understanding of the institutional environment surrounding the governance of the informal economy. Since AeT’s operational mandate is within the development realm of informal workers operating from public spaces, which is inherently a local government domain. Equally, her work at AeT contributed practical knowledge to her master’s thesis. Tasmi presented her thesis at the 2012 Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) Symposium, which can be viewed here. In addition, a paper she co-authored on AeT’s Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project was presented at this Symposium.
This is the personal reflection of her journey into AeT:
Throughout my years of formal education, I have kept a passion for serving the excluded and marginalised in society as part of an unyielding desire to address the troubling socio-economic inequalities that have plagued many countries that I have lived in or travelled to. My undergraduate studies were in Architecture and Interior Design, in which I had sought to acquire the skills for strategising creative solutions to the challenges of underdevelopment. For my internship year, I worked at East Coast Architects, which specializes in sustainable practices of community based and environmentally sensitive design and building. It was a thoroughly enriching experience which deepened the need to understand the social, economic and political dynamics of development.
Consequently, I enrolled for the masters’ programme in Development Studies, at the distinguished School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2008. My thesis explored municipal approaches to the informal economy by comparing the dynamics between a secondary city and a town. It was also during this time that I had been exposed to a wide range of research projects as practical learning opportunities offered by my lecturers. This included an internship opportunity to work with the eThekwini Municipality’s Imagine Durban Project, which provided vital insight into local government processes and sustainable urban planning.
My current work for Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) is in the capacity of a Research Officer, which has crystallised my undergraduate and master’s studies, in Architecture and Design, and Development Studies respectively; with the challenge of tailoring urban planning and design solutions WITH the informal economy. The principled approach of the AeT team and its primary partners, urban informal workers, encompasses a remarkable dynamic of innovation through collaboration, which is not only pioneering – but utterly inspiring!