Laura Alfers

Deputy Director, Social Protection Programme

“Improved recognition must necessarily include an understanding that basic urban services such as sanitation, access to clean water and waste management are part of a system of economic rights."


occupational health and safety for informal workers

Laura has worked with WIEGO since 2009 in the Social Protection
Programme. In 2013, Laura was one of 10 winners in the Rockefeller
Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Challenge for The Phephanathi Project, which aims to make the informal trading of Warwick Junction more secure and healthy for traders, customers, people passing through, and the officials who manage it.

Laura also managed WIEGO’s Occupational Health & Safety for Informal Workers Project, which ran in Ghana, Tanzania, Brazil, Peru, and India.  Laura has conducted primary research and authored several reports and policy briefs emerging from the project. She has been actively involved in building the capacity of informal workers in Ghana & South Africa to demand better urban health services from local government. More recently, she has been involved in the Social Protection Programme’s Child Care Initiative, which is exploring the links between informally working women’s incomes and their responsibilities for child care.

In 2015 Laura completed her PhD at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, with a thesis titled: “Citizens, Workers & Health Policy: A Gendered Political & Economic History of Social Citizenship in ex-British Colonies, with a focus on Ghana and India, 1880-2012.” The thesis used a gendered historical analysis to critically engage with current health reforms which seek to be inclusive of informal workers. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Social & Economic Research at Rhodes University in South Africa.

In the News

2014. Video: Approaches to Universal Health Coverage and Occupational Health and Safety for the Informal Workforce in Developing Countries – A Workshop. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

2014. Workplace safety with informal workers: Be safe with us. by Laura Alfers and Tasmi Quazi.