Social Protection for Informal Economy Workers in Zambia: Where We Are?

by Lameck Kashiwa, AZIEA General Secretary

Zambia’s Social Protection like many countries has been biased towards formal workers while informal workers relied on their own indigenous informal schemes in the markets, Bus stations and neighborhood.

The said informal schemes helped and continue to help the informal workers during funerals, bankruptcy, loss of job etc.

Each time a demand to extend social protection to the informal economy workers is made, Government found it impossible to do so because according to them, the informal economy was very difficult to capture.

In 2012, His excellency the late president Michael Chilufya, who had a pro poor agenda, bought our agenda and called for the reformation of the Social protection system in the country with a directive of extension of social protection to the informal economy.

In 2014 a technical working group was established comprising the Government, ILO, Employers, Zambia Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Alliance of Zambian Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA) and social protection Providers etc.

After 4 years of consulting, a final draft bill was submitted to the Government this year and now sitting with the Ministry of Justice including informal workers.

While waiting for government process on the draft bill to pass through various stages, AZIEA initiated and proposed to government a scheme called AZIEA MUTUAL FUND as a pilot on the social protection to informal economy workers.

The initiative consists of a model of payments, amount to be paid, which are user friendly to informal workers, starting with three products health-maternity- Pension and Savings.

The Government has welcomed our proposal and we are working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to finalise the document.