How to make the informal sector more relevant to cities’ economies
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JOHANNESBURG - The World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organisation that spans more than 50 countries, has released a new report advising how to make cities more productive and egalitarian through improving the working conditions of the informal sector.
The new report “Towards a More Equal City: Including the Excluded”, says the creation and reform of local economic development plans, urban land use plans, urban policy, and laws and regulations must be participatory and include informal workers, those who represent informal workers, and other relevant stakeholders.
“Include informal worker leaders in participatory policymaking and rule-setting processes such as development plans and urban land allocation plans,” says the WRI report.
This includes increasing informal workers’ access to public services, public spaces and public procurement.
And to better harness and encourage economic growth city governments and local officials should acknowledge the economic contribution informal workers make to the urban economy and reduce harassment and penalisation.
“Cities should provide core public services to informal workers to make their workplaces more productive; grant regulated access to public space and allow organisations of informal workers to compete for public procurement,” says the report.
They should also reform laws and regulations so they support informal workers by making it easier for them to register businesses.
Cities should also integrate informal economy activities into local economic development plans and urban land allocation plans as informal settlements are often thriving industrial hubs and house many home-based businesses.
Cities should also recognise and protect natural markets for vendors, and recognise that waste pickers contribute to cleaning streets, reclaiming recyclables and reducing carbon emissions.