Focal Cities Bangkok

Market vendors in Thailand
Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage


September 2018: Open letter from the President of the Network of Street Vendors to the Prime Minister of Thailand regarding the bans on vending.

Read the case study, "Chiang Rai City: Inclusive Urban Development for Informal Workers." This case study was selected as a finalist for Project Award by the SmartCity Expo World Congress.

The report explores key issues facing street vendors, motorcycle taxi drivers, home-based workers (both sub-contracted and self-employed), and domestic workers in Bangkok.

Bangkok is a diverse and complex mega-city that has historically offered positive examples of inclusive planning for and with informal workers. WIEGO documented some of these advances, in Bangkok and in Thailand more broadly, including the development of policies supportive of street vendors, a universal health coverage scheme and the Homeworkers Protection Act (2010). In addition, in 2013, informal workers were involved in formulating Bangkok’s 20 Year Vision (2013-2032). Both this vision and its associated  5-year plan (2018-2023) highlight the needs of informal workers and seek to involve them in management processes.

However, governance has shifted in recent years, threatening many of these gains. For example, recent policy priorities have resulted in a crackdown on street vending, as officials are restricting and removing vendors from many parts of the city. In addition, gaps in awareness and implementation of labour laws and social protection schemes add to workers’ vulnerability across Thailand.

WIEGO began work in Bangkok through the Focal Cities initiative in 2016. The Focal Cities work in Bangkok builds on previous collaborations with HomeNet Thailand, a membership-based organization of informal workers with decades of advocacy experience. HomeNet Thailand and WIEGO are working to support organizations of informal workers in four occupational groups in Bangkok: home-based workers, street vendors, domestic workers and motorcycle taxi drivers.  

Specific goals of the project include:

  • Capacity-building with informal worker leaders and their organizations in areas such as policy advocacy, communications and negotiation to support them in raising awareness of their contributions and advocating for their needs.
  • Supporting membership-based organizations (MBOs) in exchanging knowledge and strategies across sectors and regions.
  • Supporting MBOs in engaging in dialogue and negotiations with city and national public officials to promote mutual understanding and to allow workers to provide input on laws, regulations and social policy.

Current Activities

Street Vendor Exchange: NYC and Bangkok- In February 2018, representatives from street vendor organization in New York City exchanged experiences and strategies with vendors in Bangkok and gave them key recommendations as the Bangkok vendors advocate for policy reform. Read more.

Raising Visibility of Informal Workers’ Demands through Policy Dialogues - The WIEGO Focal Cities Bangkok project aims to support the creation of purpose-driven, non-confrontational spaces where workers and government officials can reach mutual understanding about issues that affect workers’ lives. In May 2017, an initial policy dialogue was organized by WIEGO, HomeNet Thailand, and the Bangkok Federation of Informal Workers to discuss findings from a participatory study with informal workers and resulting policy priorities. Worker representatives have also engaged in policy dialogues on community infrastructure and water transportation. Read more about the policy dialogue in May 2017.

Knowledge Sharing and Exchange - The Focal Cities Bangkok project also aims to improve and disseminate research, statistics and good practice documentation with the objective of supporting MBOs in their advocacy efforts with local and national authorities. To this end, Focal Cities Bangkok and HomeNet Thailand have been working to strengthen ties with government agencies to improve official data on home-based workers and domestic workers in Thailand.

In February 2017, WIEGO led a seminar with representatives from the Statistical Office of Thailand, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the ILO and the Thailand Department of Labour and Welfare. Among other things, the meeting provided the opportunity to explore possible revisions to the Thailand Labour Force Survey, integrating questions that identify home-based worker and measure the informal sector in Thailand. Recommendations have since been adopted by the NSO, with ongoing technical support from WIEGO and the International Labor Organization. Read more about the seminar.

In addition, the project seeks to facilitate knowledge sharing through south-south learning exchanges, such as the visit in March 2017 of members of the Informal Workers’ Association of Thailand to the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India. Read more about the exchange.

Capacity Building- Capacity building and training with informal workers in Bangkok is focused on communications strategies and collective bargaining and negotiations. These activities aim to strengthen informal worker leaders and their organizations to ensure they can be effective representatives of their sectors and organizations.

Resources and Publications

What Bangkok’s crackdown tells us about the multiple roles of street vendors everywhere.” Blog in Citiscope, August 3, 2017. By Sarah Reed, Sally Roever and Narumol Nirathron

WIEGO Impact. “Winning Legal Rights for Thailand’s Homeworkers.”

Policy Brief 11 - Thailand's Universal Coverage Scheme

Alfers, Laura and Francie Lund. 2012
Participatory Policy Making: Lessons from Thailand's Universal Coverage Scheme
WIEGO Policy Brief (Social Protection) No. 11

summary  |  download


Vending in Public Space: The Case for Bangkok

Yasmeen, Gisèle and Narumol Nirathron. 2014
Vending in Public Space: The Case of Bangkok
WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 16

summary  | download


Home-Based Workers, Bangkok, Thailand

Informal Economy Monitoring Study: Thailand (Bangkok)

Executive Summary:
summary page

English  | español | português

City Report:
summary page | pdf

Policy Recommendations:
summary page  | pdf


Sarah Orleans Reed, Bangkok Focal City Coordinator