“It's very hard to see what the other end of this crisis is going to look like at the grassroots level, at the base of the economic pyramid,” WIEGO’s international coordinator Sally Roever said in an article published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Street vendors can go in the street, but there’s no one to sell to. Home-based workers can make things, but there’s no one who will buy them. So that’s the real challenge now.”
With all economic linkages broken, governments need to step up to address the structural problems, Sally said. “We have corporate bailouts to keep the big players going with the idea that job creation will follow. What we need is for governments to be thinking…how do we rebuild some of those linkages from the ground up?”
One idea that was quickly put into place involved linking vegetable sellers in Ahmedabad, India, with e-rickshaw delivery. With street markets unavailable and curfews preventing travel, this Vegetables on Wheels program delivers food where it is needed.
Informal workers are essential workers, Sally said, noting that street food vendors feed millions, domestic workers allow their employers to go to work, and waste pickers sort recyclables.
“The question is, will we see a different discourse emerge and different policy practices emerge because of the recognition over the past few months?”