Law Exposure Dialogue Programme in Dakar

Pour voir cette page en français cliquez ici

April 26-28, 2019

Legal professionals and public officials lived and worked alongside informal street vendors and waste pickers for two nights and a day as part of WIEGO's Law Exposure Dialogue Programme (EDP) in Dakar, Senegal.

Informal workers Dakar - discussion

A powerful catalyst for change

EDPs allow researchers, practitioners and officials to experience firsthand the challenges that workers in informal employment face. This EDP focused on law aim to foster an understanding of how laws and regulatory frameworks shape and constrain informal workers’ livelihoods, and how the law might be used to protect these livelihoods. After the exposure, guests came together to reflect and WIEGO facilitated a dialogue on the experiences and the legal framework.

A powerful catalyst for change, EDPs build bridges and forge new relationships and alliances between workers, lawyers and officials.

Dakar EDP details

For this EDP, guests included lawyers who are working with informal workers or who might have an interest in their situation, as well as municipal officials whose work affects informal workers. Hosts were urban families that depend on street vending and waste picking to survive. Participants and their affiliations are listed below.

Dakar is a Focal City where WIEGO intensifies its activities and programmes. Focal city work includes helping informal workers strengthen their relationships with public officials and other legal professionals whose work may affect (positively or negatively) informal workers’ livelihoods and rights.

In Dakar, over 80 per cent of the working population is in the informal economy. Selling goods and services in the street, collecting and sorting waste, and producing goods or providing domestic services in private homes are predominant economic activities. However, Senegal’s legal framework regulating the activities of informal workers is punitive and restrictive—to the point of prohibiting street hawking tout-court. Thus bringing together workers, lawyers, and public officials in Dakar is particularly important for fostering greater understanding and new relationships and alliances between workers, lawyers and officials.

History and philosophy of EDP

The philosophy behind the EDP approach is this: when practitioners and policymakers spend a concentrated period of days living and working with hosts and their families, they gain insight and empathy well beyond what can be gained from less immersive experiences. Once sensitized to the grounded realities of the working poor, participants have a better understanding of how national and local policies impact those workers.

The approach was developed by Dr. Karl Osner, a German development practitioner, in concert with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India in the 1990s. Since then SEWA Academy has cultivated and delivered EDP programming to a wide range of participants, and has worked closely with WIEGO in the development of our EDP programming.

Between 2004-2011, a series of EDPs for economists, academics and development practitioners were held in Ahmedabad, India, Durban, South Africa and Oaxaca, Mexico. These EDPs were co-hosted by WIEGO, SEWA and Cornell University. Reflections by participating guests were published in Bridging Perspectives: The Cornell-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure Dialogue Programme on Labour, Informal Employment and Poverty.

WIEGO’s first EDP with lawyers was held in 2013 in Ahmedabad, India.

Guests participating in the Dakar EDP included:

  • Mbaye Seck, together with another colleague from Geni et Kebe Cabinet d’avocats

  • Abdou Karim Ngom, Huissier de justice

  • Aliou Dieng, Responsable juridique of the Confederation of Independent Unions of Senegal (CSA)

  • a representative of the National Confederation of Senegalese Workers (CNTS)

  • a representative of the United and Democratic Union of Fish Wholesalers of Senegal (SUDEMS)

  • three representatives of the Association of Senegalese Women Jurists (AJS)

  • one municipal officer

Hosts are affiliated with:

  • Synergie des marchands ambulants (SYMADSI) (Association of Street Vendors)

  • Coopérative Artisale des Femmes pour la Solidarité et le Développent (CAFEM) (Artistic Cooperative of Women for Solidarity and Development)

  • Association des Récupérateurs Bokk Diom de Mbeubeuss (Bokk Diom: the Association of Reclaimers of Mbeubeuss landfill)

From the WIEGO team:

  • Adama Soumare and Maguette Diop (Focal City Dakar)

  • Olga Abizaid and Caroline Kihato (Urban Policies Programme)

  • Marlese von Broembsen and Teresa Marchiori (Law Programme)

  • Jacques Jonathan Nyemb, a Cameroonian lawyer of the law firm Cabinet Nyemb, will also participate and contribute.

Related Reading

Informal Economy Theme