Child Care in Markets

August 10, 2015 in Accra, Ghana. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage)

Background and Issue 

Globally, over 50 percent of the population aged 15 years and above are found in informal employment; this remains especially high in three regions (Africa, the Arab States, and Asia and the Pacific). Within sub-Saharan Africa, informal employment (including agriculture) is the main source of employment in Central Africa (91.0 per cent), Eastern Africa (91.6 percent) and Western Africa (92.4 per cent).

Within informal employment, market trade/street vending remains another occupation with high representation. In Ghana, it represents nearly 40 per cent of women’s employment in Greater Accra and urban Ghana and nearly 30 per cent nationally. Similarly, in major metros in South Africa, street vending and market traders make up around 12 per cent of all employment. Again, as is the case with most informal occupations, street vendors and market traders are overrepresented by women.

Informality in employment also puts these workers in a web of vulnerability characterized by extreme poverty and lack of access to quality services, including lack of access to child care services where workers live and work. Lack of childcare leads to women taking up more precarious work to manage the unpaid care work, and not being able to achieve any income growth.

Key Challenges In Provisioning Childcare In Markets

Lack of policies and guidelines

Detailing the issue

One big challenge in access to child care for market traders remains the lack of explicit policies or guidelines around child care services for them. Market traders often live in situations of economic precarity, and cannot afford to not work while taking care of their children. These women often are left with no choice but to take along their infants and toddlers with them to work. This not only puts the children at several risks and impacts their overall work and earnings. WIEGO, along with Streetnet International, Asiye eTafuleni and Focal Cities Accra, has been engaging with urban planners, municipalities, and state officials to promote childcare for traders.

Highlighting work done by partners

In Accra, Ghana, we have worked with multiple stakeholders including market associates, traders, officials from the municipalities, and officials from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to develop guidelines for childcare in markets. Using this, the WIEGO team would be creating two models in Accra and would be engaging with the ministry of institutionalization of the guidelines.

Lack of quality and affordable service

Detailing the issue

Affordable care remains a major issue for workers, even more so in the current pandemic scenarios where things might have opened up but due to massive income loss during the intense period of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, most workers are in an economically precarious situation. Most women traders don’t have access to quality child care facilities, and even in some cases, these services exist workers aren’t able to utilize them because of high costs taken in form of fees. Through the work, the aim is to develop alternative models of childcare that can be made affordable.

Highlighting work done by partners

Asiye eTafuleni is piloting a pop-up childcare model in two markets in Durban, South Africa. Taking inspiration from the vendors themselves who use crates to store goods, care crates have been developed by architects and design experts to have foldable stations for feeding, nappy changing, sleeping, etc. The care crates are simply constructed from affordable ply-wood sheets and readily available hardware making them relatively affordable and easy to replicate.

Publications & Resources


Sabaa.S & Quarshie-Twum. D. (2022). Guidelines and standards for day care centres in and around markets in Ghana. WIEGO: Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing.


Childcare facilities in markets require ingenious solutions to address the challenge of lack of service and space and affordability. Asiye eTafuleni pilots an infrastructure model which offers mothers an affordable childcare option situated close to their place of work, so that their livelihood and childcare strategies do not have to disadvantage one another.

Partner Organizations

StreetNet International

StreetNet International is a global organization of committed informal traders, with the goal to promote and leverage an autonomous and democratic alliance of street vendors, hawkers, and cross-border traders in over 50 countries.

Asiye eTafuleni

Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) was founded in 2008, to address the widening gap between the city government’s urban agenda and the realities faced by Durban’s inner-city informal workers – a large and historic downtown community. AeT’s work and initiatives aim to achieve spatial justice and equitable access to sustainable livelihoods for informal workers in urban public spaces.

Focal Cities

WIEGO’s Focal Cities initiative supports informal worker organizations to secure more inclusive laws and regulations, improved urban services and a voice in urban planning and policy-making processes. Through the Focal Cities initiative, WIEGO works to support their organizations, which are mobilizing against negative stereotypes, unjust practices, and punitive policies.

Top Photo Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage
Informal Economy Topic
Informal Economy Theme