Austerity policies, political instability and repression damage the most vulnerable

By Irene Doda
July 10, 2024
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StreetNet International stands in solidarity with the people of Kenya during these challenging times of civil unrest and riots. We are particularly concerned about the impact this turbulence has had on street vendors, who are an integral part of Kenya’s urban economy.

The recent violence has not only threatened their livelihoods but have also placed them in immediate physical danger. Street vendors often operate on the frontlines, and during such tumultuous periods, they face losses in income, damage to goods, and increased vulnerability to harassment and violence, including from the security authorities operating in the country. 

Moreover, the financial neoliberal reforms undertaken by the Kenyan government are extremely dangerous for the poorest workers. We welcome the decision to withdraw the finance bill and we urge the government to take into account social and economic justice and redistribution when proposing financial reforms. Austerity policies have historically been extremely damaging for the informal economy workers, who comprise the majority of the global workforce, including in Kenya.

We call on the Kenyan government to ensure the protection and support of street vendors during and after these riots. It is crucial to recognize their significant contribution to the local economy and provide them with the necessary safeguards and resources to recover and thrive. We urge for a peaceful resolution to the conflicts and emphasize the importance of including street vendors in dialogues and decisions that affect their lives and work, at all levels of governance, through a multi-sectoral national engagement. We stand in solidarity with our Kenyan comrades from KENASVIT and beyond. “We are reminding the devolved government to reduce arbitrary harassment and to ensure fair allocations of worksites to affected informal economy workers” said Anthony Kwache, International Council Member of StreetNet International, from the organisation KENASVIT, Kenya “Intimidation of informal economy leaders should stop, as the authorities embrace the path of collective dialogue”.

 We stand with our Kenyan brothers and sisters!

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