STREETNET INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT – IN RESPONSE TO COVID 19

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.

However, every single day for an informal trader without work makes a big difference. Every single day for a street vendor is a loss of a very basic income to make ends meet. Therefore, in order to simply survive, the vendors still go to the streets and sell as they can’t afford to close their activity and at the same time, they are exposed to a big danger which can cost their life.

To make sure, that each life is counted and valued, and the world is moving towards social justice and equality where humans are the priority, StreetNet International encourages its affiliates to:

  • Call on your governments both at local and national level to consolidate their efforts and all stakeholders concerned to put in place measures and resources to keep all workers and their income safe, no matter what their job or employment relationship is;
  • Call on your governments to provide a universal health care and a basic emergency living cash grant to all informal economy workers and the most vulnerable categories of population regardless of their nationality and residency status;
  • Call on your governments for all informally engaged workers and the most vulnerable to be exempted from the bills for utilities during a time of coronavirus crisis;
  • Call on trade unions, CSOs and any other possible allies in your countries to jointly advocate and address the government with possible solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, considering all workers, despite their formal or informal employment form;
  • Call on your members, comrades and all citizens in your community and country for a mutual solidarity support to assist each other in such a needy times and global crisis.

We recommend the entire StreetNet membership base and the whole society to organize solidarity initiatives where the united community can act to prevent street vendors and informal traders from going through a situation of extreme scarcity and vulnerability.

There are already initiatives of solidarity funds, online crowd funding platforms, distribution of hygiene and sanitary stuff and food in defence of street vendors in various parts of the world.

Without failing to hold the public power responsible for the life of its people, times like the one we live in cries out for solidarity and community action.

We are also worried about the need of educating our members about the COVID-19 and how to prevent themselves from this infection as well as following all hygienic methods that reduce the risks of the spread of the virus which are extremely important!!

The same goes regarding the need of always use only official information from official institutions, such as World Health Organization, which provides clear guidelines on all aspects related to the COVID-19, including on how to self-check the health status.

StreetNet Office located in Durban, South Africa will be closed until general situation improves and South Africa withdrawn the lockout. Our team will continue to work from their home in their respective countries on a virtual basis.

It’s a hard time for all of us but we shouldn’t panic, instead, we should support each other and believe that only united we will overcome any challenges including the pandemic COVID-19.

Nothing for Us Without Us!

In solidarity,

StreetNet International

Contact details:

Oksana Abboud, International Coordinator (coordinator@streetnet.org.za)

Amar Kharate, Regional Organizer (amar.kharate@streetnet.org.za)

Jane Masta, Regional Organizer (jane.masta@streetnet.org.za)

Maira Vannuchi, Regional Organizer (organizadorastreetnet@gmail.com)