6 months of pandemic: StreetNet’s response to COVID-19

When 2020 started, informal traders all over the world had no way of knowing this year would put their resilience, determination, and solidarity to a more challenging test they could hardly imagine, despite their lives always being in danger. Six months after the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, leading to crippling social and economic problems for all nations, we can attest that StreetNet International and its affiliate organizations have risen to the challenge.

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Country Snapshot: India’s loan scheme for street vendors

In June 2020, the Indian government launched the Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi scheme (or PM SVANidhi Scheme, for short), funded by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The goal of this scheme, according to Prime-Minister Modi, to promote the holistic development and economic upliftment of street vendors.

Amar Kharate, StreetNet International organizer for the Asia Region, explains what exactly this policy entails, why it is important and its limitations.

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Country Snapshot: The basic emergency income policy in Brazil

On July 16, Maíra Vannuchi, organizer for the Americas for StreetNet International, presented a case study of the implementation of basic emergency income policy in Brazil in a side event organized by Global Platform for the Right to the City, during the High Level Political Forum 2020.

The event was called “Fulfilling SDG11 & the NUA beyond the #COVID19 through the Right to the City” and Maíra’s presentation was included in the section about Social protection mechanisms and securing livelihoods, particularly in the informal economy.

Maíra focused on the case of Brazil, in which the National Congress approved an inclusive and universal policy aligned with the principles of basic universal income to tackle the consequences of COVID-19

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Informal traders are not criminals: stop police violence in Zimbabwe!

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Sunday, July 5, was supposed to be just another day for informal traders in Chitungwiza, a suburb in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

Informal traders in Zimbabwe always had to struggle with harassment from police officers. Even though most of the population works in the informal economy, authorities have never treated informal traders kindly. Arrest and confiscation of goods are the routine, and the government has led several operations to penalize and eliminate informal economy workers in recent decades.

However, the events on July 5 were shocking even for Zimbabwe standards.

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2 Billion Strong: Recovery Starts with Us!

Informal economy workers of the world are united calling for a transformation of the model of work, stating: “The economy cannot recover without us!”.

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) Network Global Solidarity Platform is an alliance of informal traders, home-based workers, domestic workers and waste pickers. On May 1, 2020 we issued the global joint statement “COVID-19 and the World’s Two Billion Informal Economy Workers”, calling on governments to partner with informal economy workers for relief, recovery and resilience efforts.

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Women’s leadership, COVID-19 and informal economy workers

Oksana Abboud, the International Coordinator of StreetNet International, participated in the Cities Alliance webinar “Learning from Cities to Advance Gender Equality—The new EU Gender Action Plan in light of COVID-19”, on June 26, 2020, to share how membership-based organizations of informal economy workers can promote women’s rights in urban spaces, drawing on the experience of StreetNet International and its affiliates.

Work in the public spaces: surviving stigma, violence, and harassment

Oksana presented the unique challenges faced by informal economy workers in cities, who make up 44% of all workers. Despite their relevance and contribution to urban life, economic and urban planners seem to view informal workers, and street vendors in particular,  as problematic, perceiving these workers as a source of crime and deregulation. However, this criminalization does not take into account the value and dignity of street vending work, as it is an alternative to thousands of people that the formal employment system is unable to absorb and who legitimately go to the streets to sell goods to earn the livelihood of their families in a very honest way.

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COVID-19 and the World’s Two Billion Informal Economy Workers

Informal economy workers’ organizations across the global economy call on governments at all levels to partner with us on relief, recovery and resilience efforts that are emerging from the grassroots during this time of unprecedented crisis.

Informal Economy Workers Are — and Have Always Been — Essential Workers

Street vendors and market traders are a crucial link to food security and basic necessities, especially for the poorest segments of society. Waste pickers / recyclers provide sanitation and solid waste services that contribute to public health, lower landfill costs and a healthier environment. Domestic workers are on the frontlines of meeting hygiene standards and providing care, including for the sick and elderly. Home-based workers keep supply chains running and are sewing masks and medical coveralls for the frontline workers. Economies everywhere depend on our work.

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Impact of the pandemic on the street/market vendors and all informal traders

The COVID-19, a global catastrophe and emergency brought huge challenges not only related to the health of the whole world population but also economic decrease and livelihood troubles which require fast and proper solutions from the consolidated actions of governments and all stakeholders, to make sure – No One is Left Behind!

StreetNet International, representing over 690 000 street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in 54 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Eastern Europe, is deeply concerned about unprecedented pandemic COVID-19 and its rapid spread around the globe which has an enormous negative impact on one of the most vulnerable category of workers in informal economy. These are the workers who are usually not covered by labour laws or receiving social and health protections in their countries.

Street and market vendors are those whose working place is public space and the streets where they earn their basic livelihoods, however, to keep safe and not to be exposed neither to the COVID-19 infection nor to be a transmitter of this infection, they also need to stay in self-isolation in quarantine and maintain social distance.


14th of November: International Day of Street Vendors!

The 14th of November is the day when Us, Street Vendors from all around the world celebrate our struggle and strength.

As we get here to celebrate the international street vendors day, there is the need to push for the ratification of the ILO convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

This is especially important for the informal economy workers around the world, as a large percentage of street and market vendors continue to face all forms of harassment and violence in their working spaces on a daily basis.

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StreetNet International, representing more than 600 000 members in the sector of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers organised in 54 affiliated organisations in 50 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Eastern Europe, expresses its deep concern with the current situation in South Africa where street vendors and informal traders from other neighbour countries have fallen victims to the violence and looting and currently are experiencing a xenophobic attacks.

Streetnet International condemns the violence against immigrant traders and street vendors exercised in South Africa and calls for tolerance and peace, proper treatment and respect towards each human and worker despite the nationality and residential status.

StreetNet is committed to improving the lives of street vendors in all countries of the world, to oppose xenophobia and to discourage member organisations from adopting xenophobic policies or practices in relation to foreign nationals from other countries.

One of the StreetNet Resolutions, adopted during its first Congress in 2004 on “Foreign and migrant street vendors”, clearly addresses prevention of xenophobic attacks towards immigrant informal traders and, in its turn, “encourages informal market vendors, street vendors and hawkers in different countries to engage voluntarily in trade with each other, and to develop the suitable terms and conditions for such trade to their own advantage”.