Focal Cities Lima

A street view of street vendors on the sidelines of the old wholesale market in Lima, known as La Parada, in the local municipality of La Victoria.
Photo: Juan Arredondo/Getty Images Reportage

Since 2010, WIEGO has implemented several initiatives in Lima, Peru (coordinated by Carmen Roca), creating a critical mass of work on informal employment issues. In Lima, the country’s most populous metropolitan area, WIEGO works with seven sectors of informal workers: street vendors, market vendors, waste pickers, domestic workers, newspaper vendors, market porters and shoe-shiners. Historically in Lima, despite the size of the informal economy, informal workers’ issues have not been widely discussed or understood, and informal work has not been reflected in statistics. An ongoing goal of WIEGO’s work in Lima is to raise the visibility of informal workers and their representative organizations, and to equip them with research, statistics and findings needed to speak to the press and negotiate with governments.

Since starting work in Lima, WIEGO has engaged in advocacy efforts, together with membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers, for more equitable policies, social benefits and sustained processes for dialogue with city authorities, among other things. Specifically, WIEGO activities in Lima have included:

  • Capacity-building with workers in areas such as: policy advocacy, communications, leadership, governance, regulatory and legal frameworks and occupational health and safety.
  • Supporting MBOs in engaging in dialogue and negotiations with city and national public officials to provide input on laws, regulations and social policy.
  • Supporting MBOs in raising the visibility of their sectors and demands, including through creation of collective platforms of demands for political advocacy and engagement with the media.

Notable Gains

A new street vending ordinance - The Focal Cities advocacy work was instrumental in securing a new street trade ordinance favorable to informal workers in 2014. The new ordinance has a pro-poor approach, approves licenses for a period of two years, promotes formalization and growth of the business of the vendor, and seeks to build capacities of vendors while protecting also their health. Underlying the licensing regime is a commitment to encouraging vendors to save money and move toward formalization of their businesses over time, helping them achieve increased economic security. The City Council developed the ordinance through a participatory consultation process with more than 150 street vendors’ federations. At the consultation workshops, the draft ordinance was shared and comments and suggestions were taken to improve the text and its content.

Read more about the ordinance, and other related activities in Lima.

Safer working conditions for market vendors - Lima was one of the four cities targeted by WIEGO’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) project. The project included research with informal workers on work conditions, a national workshop (jointly hosted by WIEGO and the Consortium for Health the Environment and Development) and dialogues and seminars with policy makers.

Read a full account of the national meeting on OHS.

Read more about OHS work in Lima.

Legal empowerment - WIEGO worked in partnership with the Instituto Sindical de Cooperación al Desarrollo (ISCOD), to develop legal resources for informal workers. The two teams conducted consultations with domestic workers, market porters, street vendors, and waste pickers to get a sense of their needs and priorities. Subsequently, they developed and implemented training modules and courses to support workers in understanding their legal rights. A compilation of laws for each sector was made available in Spanish on a dedicated website for use by the workers and their representative organizations.

See the full compilation of legal resources in English.

Domestic worker campaign - In 2016, WIEGO facilitated a “mesa” where government officials and national federations of domestic workers came together to collectively develop a pioneer campaign to increase social benefits for domestic workers. The campaign encouraged households in the district of San Borja to register their domestic workers with the tax office, and to start the payments of health and pension benefits that the law grants them. At the close of the campaign, over 5,500 domestic workers were registered in Metropolitan Lima. Although not all registrations may be directly attributable to the campaign, there was no other effort that took place at the same time. The Social Security department will now use the WIEGO campaign materials for continuous dissemination nationwide. There are also plans with the Ministry of Labor to take the campaign to a national scale.

To get a sense of the campaign visit the campaign Facebook page.

Political advocacy during national elections - WIEGO was active in supporting informal workers with political advocacy in the elections of 2010 and 2016. In the lead up to the 2016 election, a Platform of Proposals and Demands was developed by a collective of informal worker leaders, and presented to the final two vice-presidential candidates. After the government took office, the informal workers leaders met seven times with government officials and three times with new parliament committees to discuss the details of the informal workers' proposals.

Read more about the 2016 meeting between informal worker leaders and political parties in Peru.

Read more about the national meeting of informal workers in Peru in the lead up to the election.

Additional Resources and Publications

Read the profile of Elba Rojas, a street vendor from Lima.

 Street Vendors Organising

WIEGO Organizing Brief No. 1. Street Vendors Organising: The Case of the Women's Network (Red de Mujeres), in Lima, Peru. Roever, Sally. and Lissette A. Linares. 2010. (also in Spanish)

Lima Street Vendor


Lima, Peru was chosen as one of ten cities for  WIEGO’s Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS), an action research initiative that aimed to evaluate the realities, constraints and contributions of informal workers.