Focal Cities

Maritza Mejía Quispe is a food vendor in the street market adjacent to the old wholesale market generally known as La Parada in the local municipality of La Victoria.
Photo: Juan Arredondo/Getty Images Reportage

Although the national policy context also has an impact on the informal economy, cities are where urban informal workers pursue their livelihoods and live their lives. Their livelihoods are bound up intimately with the processes, policies and procedures enacted by the city as it pursues its various – and often disconnected – agendas.

For urban informal workers to improve their livelihoods, their representative organizations need to be effectively engaged at all stages of urban planning and policy-making processes: from identifying and calling for required reforms, to drafting specific laws, regulations and policies, to monitoring the implementation of these.

The WIEGO Focal City approach is an intentional intensification of activities at the city level, in support of membership-based organizations (MBOs) in their efforts to improve outcomes for urban informal workers. Focal Cities build the capacity of informal worker leaders and their organizations, and foster dialogue between informal workers and municipal authorities. Focal City activities cut across multiple occupational sectors and include the following:

  • Strengthening informal worker leaders and their organizations through capacity-building initiatives to ensure they can be effective representatives of their occupational sector.
  • Convening formal platforms for dialogue and joint activity with workers and government authorities, including:  negotiation of specific issues, policy dialogues and information sharing.
  • Coordinating campaigns with public awareness components to challenge stereotypes of informal workers and/or achieve a specific objective over a fixed period of time.
  • Coordinating or supporting the necessary research, statistics and good practice documentation to ensure MBOs of urban informal workers have the information they need to present their case.
  • Capacity-building to educate informal workers on their rights and the relevant legal framework(s).
  • Offering further technical support as required and requested by partners.

WIEGO began the Focal City model in Accra, Ghana and Lima, Peru.  During 2016, we added Bangkok, Thailand and Delhi, India.  Beginning in January 2017, we extended the Focal City initiative to include Dakar, Senegal and Mexico City, Mexico, building on previous work.