Focal Cities Delhi

3 informal workers in Delhi

Photos: Rashmi Choudhary

Delhi Diary

October-November 2018

- Home-based Workers: Shining Light on the Invisible Workforce of Delhi 

- Giving Voice to the Voiceless: How a Radio Programme Empowered Informal Women Workers

August - September 2018

Holistic Child Care: More than a dream
- Waste Samaritans: Revolutionizing Waste Digitally 
- Umbrellas offer shelter in more ways than one
- Seeing Delhi's informal economy with fresh eyes
Delhi Diary highlights reflections, insights and notes from the field by the Focal City Delhi (FCD) team in their ongoing work with informal workers.


Recent WIEGO blogs

Can Waste Pickers Help Solve Delhi's Towering Trash Problem? by Shalini Sinha
 “Tomorrow is Ours”: India’s Informal Workers Declare in New Radio Programme
In Delhi, a Three-Pronged Approach Raises Informal Workers’ Priorities with Urban Decision-makers by Shalini Sinha




Since 2016, WIEGO’s Focal City Delhi (FCD) project has sought to improve outcomes for urban informal workers in three sectors in New Delhi: home-based workers, street vendors, and waste pickers.

The project brings attention to the practical realities and contributions of the informal workers; strengthens collective voice by supporting workers’ organizations; and builds platforms for active engagement of workers’ groups with urban decision makers – ensuring recognition of the informal economy and its potential to address many of the employment and poverty issues in India. 

Objectives of Focal City Delhi

  1. Increased visibility for informal workers: Through a broad-based communications strategy, FCD increases public awareness about the civic, economic and environmental contributions of informal workers and the informal economy in New Delhi.
  2. Improved legal and policy frameworks: FCD supports workers’ groups to advocate for the effective implementation of supportive laws and policies, such as the Street Vendors Act, 2014 (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending), and waste management rules (The Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 and the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016).
  3. Inclusion of livelihood issues in urban discourse: FCD supports informal workers to represent themselves in urban policy arenas regarding issues such as: inclusive housing policy for home-based workers; inclusive solid waste management policy for waste pickers; and access to social protection and land rights for those living and working in slums.

Recent and Upcoming Activities

Raising Awareness

FCD works to build the knowledge base about urban informal employment at both the local and global levels.

  • In 2016, this included a collaboration with the Harvard South Asia Institute on several initiatives, including a booklet and two webinars on home-based workers: Home-based Workers, Invisible and Voiceless and Cities and Home-based Workers”.
  • Shalini Sinha, (WIEGO’s India Country Representative) hosted a 13-episode radio programme on the informal economy in 2017, called “Kal ki Subah Humari Hai” (Tomorrow is Ours). Learn more and listen to episodes.
  • In early 2018, the Informal Workers’ Narratives were hosted by Working Peoples' Charter (WPC), and co-curated by the Alliance of Indian Waste-Pickers (AIW) and FCD. Held across two events, a panel of workers from different trades, including domestic workers, waste pickers, street vendors, and home-based workers spoke of their work and their challenges. The events shed light on the role of the informal economy in the city, and how informal workers continue to be marginalized. 

Stakeholder Engagement and the Urban Informal Sector

In 2018, FCD – in collaboration with the National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA) – organized a 2-day workshop: “Making Cities Work for All: Integrating the Informal Economy”. 

FCD is also seeking to stimulate a dialogue around the upcoming Delhi Master Plan (2021-41) by bringing together urban planners, activists and worker groups, in order to place the issues of informal workers at centerstage.

Child Care for Informal WorkersHome-based worker in Delhi with child

In 2017, FCD organized a city-level workshop on Child Care for Informal Workers. In 2018, FCD is partnering with FORCES Delhi on a city-wide child care campaign aimed at increasing focus on the child care needs of informal workers. The campaign promotes public investment in quality child care services through engagements between MBOs, child care coalitions and local and state governments. 

Sectoral Work

Waste Pickers

In 2018, FCD, in collaboration with the Alliance of Indian Waste pickers (AIW) and the Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), created a platform for waste picker organizations called the "Delhi Roundtable on Solid Waste Management". The goal is to advocate and organize around the Solid Waste Management Rules (2016) and work towards inclusion of waste-pickers in the waste management systems of the city.

Street Vendors

Following the implementation of the Street Vendors Act (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending), 2014; the city of Delhi has recently held elections for Town Vending Committees (as prescribed in the Act). FCD is working with the National Association of Street Vendors in India (NASVI) to build capacities of street vendor members of the TVCs. 

Related reading:

India’s National Policy on Urban Street Vendors

India’s National Policy on Urban Street Vendors by Shalini Sinha and Sally Roever, 2011 (WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 2)


Home-Based Workers

In 2017, FCD, in partnership with the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) India, conducted a scoping study in four locations in Delhi to estimate the extent of home-based work, their status in employment, the nature of their activities and products, and the related issues and challenges they face. In 2018, a 2nd round of study is planned in two additional locations.

Related reading:

“Photo Essay Part I: Home as a Place of Work” by Shalini Sinha, 2015 (WIEGO Blog)

“Photo Essay Part II: Hidden Workers in Sunder Nagari”by Shalini Sinha, 2015 (WIEGO Blog)

Supporting Home-Based Workers in India, SEWA


Supporting Women Home-Based Workers: The Approach of the Self-Employed Women's Association in India by Shalini Sinha, 2013 (WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 13)


Home-Based Workers in India: Statistics and Trends

Home-Based Workers in India: Statistics and Trends by Govindan  Raveendran, Ratna M. Sudarshan and Joann Vanek, 2013 (WIEGO Statistical Brief No. 10)



More  Publications and Resources

Mixed-Use Zoning and Home-Based Production in India

Nohn, Matthias. 2011.
Mixed-Use Zoning and Home-Based Production in India

WIEGO Technical Brief (Urban Policies) No. 3

summary  | download pdf


Approaches to Basic Service Delivery for the Working Poor

Rusling, Sara. 2010.
Approaches to Basic Service Delivery for
the Working Poor: Assessing the Impact of Mahila Housing Trust’s
Parivartan Slum Upgrading Programme in Ahmedabad, India

WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 1

summary   |  download


Shalini Sinha: