WIEGO Newsletter - August 2013

Covering the period January–June 2013

WIEGO e-News January-June 2012


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  • Law & Informality
  • Occupational Health & Safety for Informal Workers
  • Academic Curricula Gains

Occupational Sector News

  • Domestic Workers
  • Home-Based Workers
  • Street Vendors
  • Waste Pickers

Programme Updates

  • Organization & Representation
  • Statistics
  • Global Trade
  • Social Protection
  • Urban Policies

Global Projects

  • Inclusive Cities
  • Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers

Special Initiatives

  • Exposure-Dialogue Programmes

Governance & Team

Communication & Dissemination

  • Global Monitoring System
  • Publications, Resources & Reports


Law & Informality

The Law & Informality project is becoming a full-fledged WIEGO programme. This will continue the important work of developing a knowledge base of how laws and regulations—or their absence—affect informal workers, negatively or positively. The project identified labour legislation, environmental laws, municipal laws, sector-specific laws (e.g. agriculture, fisheries), right-to-information laws and property laws as areas with significant impact on different sectors of the informal economy. One objective has been to build the capacity of informal worker leaders, especially women, to understand and engage in advocacy and negotiation for legal change. After pilots in India and Colombia, the project rolled out in Ghana, Peru and Thailand between 2010 and 2013.

  • In Ghana, the project partner is the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC). Group discussions were held with domestic workers, women headloaders (kayayeis), and street vendors to identify the legal issues and demands for each sector, while a review of court rulings revealed the dominant judicial attitudes towards informal workers. Following consultations with workers, the GTUC and the expert group critiqued the draft Regulation on Domestic Workers and suggested amendments to a National Taskforce on Domestic Workers established by government. Meetings were held with the Accra Municipal Authority (AMA) on protection of basic rights of street vendors. The legal experts identified a need to amend the AMA by-law on street vending to designate specific streets for specific days for street vending. As a result of the project, the GTUC became interested in organizing new groups of informal workers, particularly kayayeis and domestic workers.
  • In Peru, the project partner was Instituto Sindical de Cooperación al Desarrollo (ISCOD), a Spanish trade union cooperation agency that works with informal workers). After consultation with domestic workers, market porters, street vendors, and waste pickers, the project team focused on capacity building for worker leaders from different organizations. Training modules for workers were developed and courses on organizational skills and on the laws affecting particular groups ran weekly. Creative material was also produced and disseminated, along with a background paper on Law and the Informal Economy in Peru. A compilation of laws for each sector was made available in Spanish on a dedicated website.
    Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Peru (CUT-Peru), a union experienced in working with informal workers, invited ISCOD to participate in discussions around a Draft Bill of Self Employed Workers, developed by the Ministry of Labor. ISCOD provided technical advice in developing a counter proposal. If this proposal comes to fruition, self-employed workers will be able to access rights that currently elude them and to become part of integrated social protection systems.
  • In Thailand, the project partner is HomeNet Thailand, and the focus is on legal empowerment of both home-based workers and domestic workers. Research on contract farmers will also open a new area for work. HomeNet Thailand had successfully campaigned (with support from WIEGO in past projects) for the Homeworkers Protection Act, which entitles Thai homeworkers (i.e., sub-contracted home-based workers) to minimum wage, occupational health and safety protection and other fundamental labour rights. To understand obstacles to implementing these protections, the WIEGO law project examined instances where homeworkers had attempted to access their rights. This research on implementation of the Act resulted in a set of case studies. As well, a concerted effort was made to inform homeworker leaders and homeworkers about their rights through workshops with lawyers and government officials, posters, newsletters and other documents.

    Local and national-level consultations with domestic workers updated them on the ILO Convention on Domestic Work (C189) and helped mobilize action to protect migrant domestic workers in the country. During the course of the project, the Thai Domestic Workers Network was formed, which helped pressure the government to pass the Ministerial Regulation for Domestic Workers in 2012.

The law project has been extended in all three countries to continue the engagement with authorities and capacity building activities. Organization & Representation Programme Director Chris Bonner has been working with Roopa Madhav and Kamala Sankaran (joint project coordinators), and with WIEGO Team members, to develop the ongoing Law & Informality Programme, which will have its own director.

Legal Briefs

WIEGO’s Urban Policies Programme has launched a Legal Briefs Series as part of the WIEGO Publication Series. Kamala Sankaran and Roopa Mahhav converted their findings from the Law & Informality pilot in India into the first brief in this series. Megan Corrarino, a Yale Law School graduate, drafted a working paper on how a lack of regulations deepens the social and economic marginalization for street vendors. She has also examined how to use the right to information as a legal strategy for informal workers, which international and regional legal instruments provide sources of rights, and how to craft a legal strategy. Three analyses of precedent-setting legal cases where livelihoods were secured have also been completed. Legal Brief 3 documents (in Portuguese) the public civil suit against the city of São Paulo concerning the elimination of vending zones. Another case focuses on Warwick Junction in Durban, where street traders successfully opposed a mall development that threatened the livelihoods of street traders. The final case is that of waste pickers in Bogota who won the right to tender for waste contracts.

Occupational Health & Safety for Informal Workers

WIEGO’s Occupational Healty & Safety (OHS) project has had several significant achievements. Already operational in Brazil, Ghana, India, Peru and Tanzania, the OHS project is becoming active in South Africa, with Asiye eTafuleni (AeT), an NGO partner of WIEGO that supports street/market vendors in Durban. A Logical Framework Analysis workshop led to the development of the Safer, Healthier Warwick project. An initial survey was conducted on the use of First Aid kits. WIEGO and AeT have also begun collaborating with the University of KwaZulu-Natal to explore working on the health issues of corn-on-the-cob (mielie) cooks in Durban’s Warwick Junction. Another facet of the work of the work in Durban led to some exciting news in June, when the Rockefeller Foundation announced that a joint WIEGO-AeT initiative was one of 10 projects worldwide to win a prestigious Centennial Innovation Challenge Award. OHS researcher Laura Alfers worked with Richard Dobson and Phumzile Xulu of AeT to develop the proposal “Empowering a New Generation of Street Vendors through Disaster Risk Management.” The aim is to develop a fire safety and basic first aid strategy for informal vendors Warwick Junction area, where as many as 8,000 vendors make a living—and to create a replicable model that others can emulate. Read more.

Other recent developments include breakthroughs in Brazil, where the adoption of the first National Workers' Health Policy now means informal workers are regarded as legal workers. A new requirement has also been enacted that mandates that the type of employment (formal or informal) must be registered in health information systems.

In India, where WIEGO’s OHS partners are the waste pickers’ union KKPKP and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), work has concentrated on the design of ergonomically-appropriate equipment for informal workers. WIEGO supported a SEWA study on the use of new tools that provided improvements to workers. For example, waste pickers using new carts could carry an extra bag of refuse worth about 20-25 rupees in earnings, and one woman reported saving 400 rupees in medical expenses after using the SEWA equipment. Sugarcane cutters said they were able to work faster with the newly-designed cutters. Embroidery workers have reported a reduction in back pain due to ergonomically improved equipment. SEWA hosted a national workshop on “Occupational Health of Women Workers in the Informal Economy” in New Delhi on April 4-5, 2013. SEWA has begun to make important inroads into both the Health and Labour Ministries in India in respect to OHS, and they have acknowledged that the support of WIEGO has been crucial to this.

In January, the OHS team travelled to the Inclusive Cities Annual Learning Meeting to give feedback on the OHS project to worker organizations.

The Social Protection Programme is planning how to integrate OHS into other WIEGO programme work when the project ends in June 2014. High on the agenda is integration of OHS for informal workers into university curricula. Updates, newsletters and publications are available at www.wiego.org/ohs.

Academic Curricula Gains

Understanding informality will be crucial to future generations of urban planners and policymakers. WIEGO is working to institutionalize curriculum on the informal economy in mainstream academic institutions. A toolkit on the urban informal economy, created by Caroline Skinner and posted on the Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS) website, has now been downloaded over 600 times.

Other developments in our curriculum work include:

  • WIEGO’s Waste Specialist Sonia Dias has devised a syllabus “Waste, State and Development – Mainstreaming Gender and Participation” for the graduate course at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.
  • WIEGO’s waste picker team is collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where Global Waste Picker Coordinator Lucia Fernandez has advised on the development of a course about Waste Management in Developing Countries.
  • Marty Chen, who teaches a course on the informal economy at the Harvard Kennedy School each year, has also developed a course on the informal economy for the India Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) programme for working professionals in urban development.

Occupational Sector News

Domestic Workers

By June 2013, 11 countries had ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 on Domestic Workers and Decent Work (C189) and associated recommendations through their legislative processes; seven of these have completed the official ILO ratification process. Read more. Awareness of C189 among domestic workers themselves—a crucial first step in achieving the goals of this workers’ rights movement—is being bolstered through ongoing activities.

Communication within the International Domestic Workers’ Network has been enhanced with the launch of the new IDWN website and distribution of monthly e-newsletters to keep over 6,000 subscribers up to date.

The IDWN is building and formalizing its democratic structures by recruiting MBOs. A founding congress of IDWN will be held in Uruguay in October 2013. Through our Securing Economic Rights for Informal Workers project, WIEGO will provide financial support for this.

A major highlight of recent months was the official launch of the Africa Domestic Workers’ Network (AfDWN) in Cape Town, South Africa on International Domestic Workers’ Day, June 16. Domestic workers representatives from 17 countries came together to establish the new network. The goal is to strengthen coordination and solidarity among domestic workers’ organizations in Africa, and use collective power to achieve ratification of C189 and improved legislation for domestic workers in Africa. Chris Bonner facilitated the session where guidelines for the operation of the AfDWN were developed. She also assisted a team to draw up the Declaration.

Domestic workers’ organizations around the world are gaining strength and pressuring governments to protect the rights of domestic workers. In India, at least 10 organizations of domestic workers have begun the process of transforming into sustainable trade unions. In China and Indonesia, national workshops gathered leaders to learn and strategize. In Europe, WIEGO’s European Regional Advisor, Karin Pape, is working with unions that are organizing domestic workers. In February she facilitated a workshop in Ireland for a domestic worker group. In the UK, the IDWN has joined forces with domestic worker organizations and a supportive NGO to campaign against proposed changes to visa rules that will harm migrant domestic workers. More examples and details are available in the first Securing Economic Rights for Informal Workers newsletter.

Home-Based Workers

To learn more about the situation and organization of home-based workers in regions outside of Asia, WIEGO supported research and mapping in Latin America as well as organizing and networking in South-East Europe. Networking and capacity building work is now underway among organizations of home-based workers in these regions. WIEGO has also commissioned Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa (COFTA) to undertake mapping of home-based workers in Kenya and Egypt.

In Pakistan, following a WIEGO-led supply chain mapping workshop last year in Lahore, thePakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) was commissioned to do supply chain mapping with home-based workers in that country. Additional research in coming years will examine how urban policies and practices affect home-based workers. WIEGO works with HomeNet Pakistan, whose members have been making their voices heard in recent months. For example, one group successfully fought the installation of a high extension power supply directly over their houses. Others are working to bring basic services to their communities. Read more.

Home Net South Asia (HNSA) recently undertook an exercise to re-envision its work. WIEGO is developing a capacity-building programme with HNSA that will include work on strategic planning and sustainability through the Inclusive Cities project, as well as capacity building with affiliates, and exchange visits through the Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers project.

As part of the Inclusive Cities project, HNSA undertook studies of the issues, policies and practices that affect urban home-based workers. The detailed studies fill a significant gap in what was previously known about low-income urban home-based workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. Shalini Sinha, WIEGO’s Home-Based Worker Sector Specialist, is developing a Policy Brief outlining some key findings of this research.

Street Vendors

WIEGO’s work includes providing support to StreetNet’s World Class Cities for All (WCCA) campaign, which advocates for an end to the evictions and relocations of vendors that often occur in conjunction with mega-events, and urges the inclusion of poor communities and constituencies in making the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. WIEGO is helping to monitor the impact of mega events on informal workers. StreetNet is also the lead partner in the component of the Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers project that focuses on street and market vendors.

In March 2013, WIEGO hosted an international workshop on fund-raising for StreetNet International's affiliated organizations in Santiago, Chile. The workshop followed StreetNet's 4th triennial International Congress, attended by 93 delegates from 40 countries.

Accra Street Traders and Decision-Makers Meet
A Policy Dialogue was held in Accra, Ghana between informal street traders and officials from two municipal assemblies. Facilitated by WIEGO, the policy dialogue centred on the theme Ensuring Optimal Involvement of the Urban Informal Sector in National Economic Development. The dialogue was successful in bringing the traders’ concerns to the attention of authorities and sparking opportunities to engage further. Read more.

Good Practice Documentation
WIEGO documents good policy and organizational practice that has secured livelihoods for street vendors or contributed to policy and academic debates relevant to street vendors. This research, often published in WIEGO Working Papers and Briefs, has real-world impact. Recent examples are:

  • Researchers from a human rights centre in São Paulo, Brazil used How to Plan a Street Trader Census by Sally Roever, WIEGO's Street Vendor Specialist, to improve their documentation of where street vendors were working and to track human rights violations perpetrated by military police against them. When the mayor of São Paulo banned street vending in May 2012, the researchers teamed with the Public Defender of the State of São Paulo to launch a public civil suit defending the traders. The documentation they had accumulated on street trading helped win the suit and save several thousand livelihoods. WIEGO Legal Brief No. 3 (in Portuguese) examines the case.
  • In early 2013, a draft Licensing of Business bill in South Africa threatened to impose requirements that were impossible for informal traders to fulfil. At the request of StreetNet International, WIEGO compiled a response, including examples from other places of licensing requirements that enabled traders to maintain their livelihoods while also allowing for better regulation of small-scale enterprises. An alliance of South African trader organizations used this research to propose improvements; the ministry cited the traders’ arguments in agreeing to redraft the bill.

Waste Pickers

Waste pickers in several countries have marked major victories in their fights for recognition, improved earnings and integration into solid waste management systems.

  • In Brazil, the Minas Gerais Chapter of the waste pickers’ movement (Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Recicláveis – MNCR) won their long fight to receive compensation for the urban services they provide. A law now authorizes the use of public funds to compensate waste pickers (catadores) of the State of Minas Gerais who are members of co-operatives for their environmental contributions. Each co-operative will receive quarterly payments based on the quantity and kind of recyclables collected and sold, and will distribute the funds to members. The first payments were received in December 2012. In the coming years the policy will be monitored to assess whether it contributes to a fairer recycling chain.
  • In Colombia, WIEGO’s new Waste Picker Coordinator for Latin America, Federico Parra, gave considerable support to help the recicladores implement a 2011 Constitutional Court decision giving waste pickers the right to tender for contracts. After a long struggle, Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá (ARB) has been included in the city’s waste management programme. In March 2013, the Mayor's Office in Bogotá launched a payment system for waste pickers in exchange for their services collecting and transporting recyclable materials. Per ton payments will now almost match those paid to private operators. Initially, 790 waste pickers and their families saw their normal earnings—traditionally based solely on what they could sell the recyclables for—dou­ble or even triple. About 4,000 (of Bogota’s 14,000) waste pickers are registered for the payment programme. 
    In April 2013, Nohra Padilla, a third-generation waste picker and now Executive Director of ARB, received the world’s largest prize for grassroots environmentalism, the Goldman Environmental Prize, for her work on behalf of recyclers in Colombia. WIEGO celebrated alongside Nohra at award ceremonies in both San Francisco and Washington DC, USA. Read more and see Nohra’s acceptance speech here. 
  • In India, KKPKP, a waste pickers’ union, held a sit-in from March 20-26, 2013 outside the municipal office of Pimpri-Chinchwad city. For months, KKPKP had complained to municipal authorities that waste workers were being paid less than the required minimum wage by the waste collection contractor BVG Kshitij. The protest concluded after Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi examined the evidence—documents KKPKP collected using the Right to Information Act—and instructed a labour welfare officer to provide a written resolution. According to KKPKP’s Lakshmi Narayan, the resolution means waste pickers should be paid a total of almost 30,000,000 rupees (US $504,935) in back pay. Ultimately, she said, it was “a very useful solidarity building process.”
    For three years KKPKP, along with the environmental research and action group Chintan and Roopa Madhav, a lawyer who led WIEGO’s Law & Informality project, sat on a task force that pushed the Government of India to provide medical coverage to waste pickers. Their work has paid off. In June it was announced that waste pickers can register for RSBY, the Indian national health insurance programme for those living below the poverty line. Read the press announcement.

Gender & Waste in Latin America
WIEGO Waste Picker Specialist Sonia Dias is facilitating work in Brazil, in the Minas Gerais area in particular, on gender and waste pickers. The project—a partnership between WIEGO, the Women’s Research Center (NEPEM) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the national waste picker movement MNCR and the regional waste picker movement RedLacre—is addressing gender inequality in waste picking activities, extending to the inequality women waste pickers face at home, at work, and as leaders within their representative organizations. Read more on the Inclusive Cities blog.

Programme Updates

Organization & Representation (ORP)

ORP Programme Director Chris Bonner and Global Projects Advisor Rhonda Douglas helped plan and facilitate Influencing Cities, a workshop held in Thailand in February 2013 for all of the partners in the global Inclusive Cities project. A tool-kit on influencing cities and negotiations is planned using materials from the workshop.

The WIEGO Organization & Representation Database—WORD—has been enhanced and augmented. To find organizations working with informal workers or to add yours, access WORD here.

Green Jobs at the International Labour Conference

“Sustainable Development, Green Jobs and Decent Work” were on the agenda of the International Labour Conference (ILC) 2013. With its partners, WIEGO prepared a position paper—Waste Pickers: The Right to Be Recognized as Workers—and sent a small delegation including Lucia Fernandez, WIEGO’s Global Waste Picker Coordinator, Karin Pape, WIEGO’s European Adviser, and representatives from three strong waste picker organizations and partners (ARB,Colombia; KKPKP,India; and MNCR,Brazil). The delegation actively engaged with the Workers' and Tripartite Committee on Sustainable Development, struggling to have the recycling sector considered as one of the key sectors within green jobs and sustainable development, and waste pickers noted as a labour sector that deserves special attention. The delegation also presented on the work of waste pickers to select organizations. Ultimately, participation in the ILC 2013 served to build new or stronger relationships with unions, ILO branches, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In fact, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow invited the waste pickers to the ITUC Congress in 2014, where “green jobs” will be one of the priority topics. Read the delegation’s report.

Collaboration with the Solidarity Center
WIEGO and the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center in the USA collaborated on research that looked at organizing in the informal economy. Two projects were done. A study on sub-contracted garment workers in Bangladesh was completed; Simeen Mahmud and Lopita Huq authored Home Based Workers in the Export Garment Sector in Bangladesh: An Exploratory Study in Dhaka City. This is being developed into a WIEGO Working Paper. Debbie Budlender in South Africa led research into collective bargaining in the informal economy. A team of researchers analyzed the Georgian Transport Workers Union, the National Petty Traders Union of Liberia (vendors); co-operatives in Minas Gerais, Brazil (waste pickers); SEWA in India (home-based bidi workers); and the Domestic Workers Union of Uruguay (Sindicato Unico de Trabajadoras Domésticas – SUDT). Five case studies and an overview report are soon to be published on WIEGO’s website.


The Statistics Programme seeks to develop statistics on informal employment and the informal sector and their contribution to GDP as an integral part of official labour force and other economic statistics through methodological work, technical support, participation in international committees and task forces, and advocacy. It also prepares statistics and analyses in formats that are readily accessible to researchers, policymakers and advocates.

Statistics Programme Director Joann Vanek and Research Coordinator Françoise Carré, along with other members of the WIEGO Team, collaborate with international agencies on issues relating to statistics and informal employment. The programme also contributes substantive expertise to WIEGO publications, projects, web pages and other materials. This has included advising on the development of the Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS).

Manual to Assist in Measuring Informality
The manual Measuring Informality: A Statistical Manual on the Informal Sector and Informal Employment was published in 2013. The manual was prepared in cooperation with the International Expert Group on Informal Sector Statistics (the Delhi Group) and WIEGO, with funding from the Government of India. Joann Vanek was involved in all stages of the manual’s preparation. It will assist countries to include the informal sector and informal employment in their labour statistics, providing practical guidance on the technical issues involved with the development and administration of surveys used to collect relevant information, as well as the compilation, tabulation and dissemination of the resulting data.

Statistics on Home-Based Workers in Asia
WIEGO International Coordinator Marty Chen and Joann Vanek are assisting with two projects on the development and use of statistics on home-based workers and homeworkers. In the first, Ratna Sudarshan and Govindan Raveendran analyzed data from three surveys of employment and unemployment in India—specifically 1999-2000, 2004-5 and 2009-10—to see the trends in employment and changes in branch of economic activity. The second is a project with HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet South East Asia to prepare statistics on the numbers of home-based workers and homeworkers, as well the sector of employment and certain other characteristics of these workers. The project builds on available data in several countries in the region.

Global Trade

The Global Trade Programme is leading the “Developing Leadership and Business Skills for Informal Women Workers in Fair Trade” sub-project, part of the Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers project (see Global Projects). This element involves women workers and their organizations in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. A series of country-level trainings on leadership, business skills, and sustainability are planned at the country level. The intent is for the training to then spread down to local fair trade groups and their individual members, thus creating a sustainable base. In December 2012, an inception workshop in Uganda brought together representatives of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative (Uganda), Kenya Federation for Alternative Trade (KEFAT), National Association of Women's Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU), and the Ugandan Federation for Alternative Trade (UGAFAT).

In April, Global Trade Programme Director Elaine Jones met with UGAFAT in Kampala to finalize detailed planning and budgeting. She also attended a workshop with the KEFAT network in Nairobi to share the results of their baseline survey of membership. In addition to informing their strategic plan, the baseline survey will provide a benchmark to measure project progress over the next three years.

Fair Trade
When partners in WIEGO’s Women Organizing for Fair Trade project participated at the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) conference in 2011, they created the impetus to develop a gender strategy for WFTO. Elaine Jones was asked to chair a working group to craft this strategy and redraft Fair Trade Principle 6 (on gender discrimination). She worked with WIEGO partners from the Women Organizing for Fair Trade project, many of whom continue to partner with WIEGO in the Securing Economic Rights project. The gender strategy was approved at the WFTO biennial conference in May 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, where researcher Carol Wills and Elaine Jones also ran a workshop on women's economic empowerment. The Gender Working Group will continue to work with the WFTO regions to support them in the implementation of the Gender Policy.

Ethical Trade
WIEGO is involved in an Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) food and farming project with a specific focus on the horticultural sector in Peru. In March 2013, Elaine Jones participated in an ETI Food and Farming tripartite delegation to Peru to visit farms, interview workers, and take part in an event hosted by ILO (with participation by Carmen Roca, WIEGO's Latin America Regional Advisor, and Peru partner PLADES). Through its involvement in work with the Peruvian Horticulture supply chain, WIEGO, together with the IUF, has played a key role in arguing for a programme to improve working conditions for thousands of workers in the industry, most of whom are informal workers in formal firms on farms and in packhouses. This initiative under WIEGO’s Global Trade programme is being coordinated with WIEGO’s ongoing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) project in Peru.

Social Protection

In addition to overseeing the OHS project described above, Social Protection Programme Director Francie Lund has been involved in a number of initiatives:

  • Francie has been appointed to the External Expert Panel for assessing UNICEF research. She has also designed an international initiative, for which funding has been secured, that will work to establish child care services as a central component of social protection.
  • In March 2013, Francie gave the keynote presentation and served as adviser to the European Commission’s evaluation of the response to its first round of funding for Social Protection and the Informal Economy. She also gave a seminar at the International Social Studies Institute in The Hague, Netherlands.
  • James Heintz, professor at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Francie finalized a paper on social policy and the changing structure of employment as part of a collaboration between WIEGO and United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).
  • In April 2013, Francie presented at the 9th Ordinary Session of the African Union’s Labour and Social Affairs Commission (AU LSAC) in Addis Ababa in support of the SPIREWORK Programme (Extending Social Protection to Informal and Rural Workers). She was invited to participate in the AU LSAC press conference. Significantly, the Social Protection team were successful in having a key paragraph on informal workers inserted into the final recommendations of the AU LSAC’s report on SPIREWORK.

Also, materials coming out of the Bangkok Health Policy Dialogue, held during 2012, were completed. These include a flyer setting out WIEGO’s position on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), two posters relating to informal workers and UHC, information pamphlets for head loaders (kayayei) on the free maternal healthcare available in Ghana; and three WIEGO Policy Briefs by Alfers, Jain and Namsomboon (see Publications).

Urban Policies

The Urban Policies Programme is responsible for coordination and dissemination of research findings, data analysis, and good practice documentation. The Sector Specialists—Shalini Sinha for home-based workers, Sally Roever for street vendors, and Sonia Dias for waste pickers—have all written or worked with researchers on presentations, papers and policy briefs that document good urban practices. Many of these are included in the WIEGO Publication Series, which Caroline Skinner, Urban Policies Programme Director, manages.

The WIEGO Publication Series
The WIEGO Research Team continues to build the WIEGO Publication Series, led by Urban Policies Diector Caroline Skinner. There are currently 28 Working Papers and new ones post regularly. Six types of WIEGO Briefs—Budget, Legal, Organizing, Policy, Statistical and Technical—provide user-friendly documentation for those involved in advocacy, policy and research on the informal economy. The Workers’ Lives Series offers in-depth profiles of individual workers and how they experience first-hand the impact of policies, economic forces and organizing initiatives. While most publications are in English, an increasing number in Spanish and Portuguese are being added.

Networking and Policy Engagement

Team members have been extensively involved in policy discussions and forums:

  • Sonia Dias is a resource person in Belo Horizonte, Brazil with the Municipal Waste and Citizenship Forum, which convenes organizations from civil society and public and private sectors to discuss how waste management can secure informal waste pickers’ incomes and improve their working conditions. She also participates in an Observatory of Public Policies in Solid Waste, formed in 2012 after waste picker representatives said they were over-researched with no direct benefits and demanded the creation of a space for discussion of studies produced about waste picking.
  • Sally Roever, based in the USA, is helping monitor the impact of mega-events preparations on the working poor in Brazil, including through a wiki she set up. Through the IEMS study, she is assisting MBOs in five cities to devise policy recommendations for the street vending sector.
  • In India, Shalini Sinha has been contributing to the National Alliance for Social Security, which represents over two million informal workers, to develop their research efforts around social security for India’s informal sector. Shalini also participates in a national level workshop and dialogue on social security for women in India, organized in partnership with Henrich Boll Foundation, UN Women, ILO and others.

Global Projects

Inclusive Cities

The Inclusive Cities (IC) project is in its fourth year and a final project evaluation has been planned. This includes creating detailed case studies that highlight the project’s impact, as well as a quantitative overview of outputs and outcomes. A special hub will be developed on the IC website to contain these materials.

Monitoring the State of the Informal Economy
The first round of field research of Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) was completed in 2012. IEMS is exploring the current and changing realities of urban home-based workers, street vendors, and waste pickers, how these informal workers respond to changes—both individually and through their organizations—and what institutions help or hinder their responses. Read more about IEMS.

The 10 IEMS Cities:

Accra, Ghana

Ahmedabad, India

Bangkok, Thailand

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Bogota, Colombia

Durban, South Africa

Lahore, Pakistan

Lima, Peru

Nakura, Kenya

Pune, Inda



City and occupational sector reports, as well as a global report, that detail findings from the first round of research are in production. These will be made available on both the Inclusive Cities and WIEGO websites. Advocacy materials based on these reports will support the work of the partners MBOs. A second round of research will begin in 2014.

Supporting Sustainability
WIEGO is supporting the development of sustainability plans for Asiye eTafuleni in South Africa, HomeNet South Asia, KKPKP/SWaCH in India and six SEWA units. IC partners completed a self-assessment questionnaire and WIEGO has worked directly with each partner to develop a sustainability plan based on the needs assessment. In the process, WIEGO has also produced resources for use by informal workers’ organizations, including a range of workshop modules on various aspects of fund-raising, organizational development, and project planning and management. A Sustainability Strategy Series based on this content will be published that can be used in conjunction with the workshop modules or as a stand-alone resource.

Also, WIEGO enhanced a fundraising wiki to include all available materials, links to additional resources and information on funders. Notifications are sent out weekly to all Inclusive Cities partners (including affiliates) advising them on potential funding and partnership opportunities.

Carbon Finance Feasibility Study
In 2013, WIEGO contracted consultant Ernest Achtell to look into the feasibility of waste picker organizations being able to access carbon finance. This involved research into both the Clean Development Mechanism and voluntary markets, as well as key informant interviews with both carbon finance specialists and waste picker organizations. WIEGO has produced a Technical Brief as well as a short summary targeted at waste picker organizations. These outline technical issues and the pros and cons of waste picker organizations pursuing income from the sale of carbon credits.

Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers

WIEGO’s new global project, “Securing Economic Rights for Informal Women Workers” is supported by a Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) grant from the Government of the Netherlands. Through six distinct elements, the multifaceted project seeks to strengthen the organizing and leadership capacity of women working in informal employment in more than 50 countries, helping them gain economic self-reliance and increasing their participation in politics, governance and management. To learn more about the project, visit its section on the Women’s Economic Empowerment microsite.

Special Initiatives

Exposure-Dialogue Programmes

In February, a second launch of Bridging Perspectives: The Cornell-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure and Dialogue Programme on Labour, Informal Employment and Poverty took place in South Africa. The volume offers rich detail on the daily lives and struggles of informal workers in India, Mexico and South Africa and on a unique programme that tested economic theory and policy against reality. Learn more and access Bridging Perspectives.

Exposure Dialogue Programme Focused on Law & Informality

With Namrata Bali of SEWA Academy and two human rights lawyers at Harvard University, Marty Chen, the International Coordinator for WIEGO, planned and raised funds for a series of Exposure Dialogue Programmes on Law & Informality that will engage human rights judges, legal advocates, and activists around issues relating to informal employment, informal settlements and informal citizenship. The first Exposure Dialogue took place in Ahmedabad, India in February 2013. A group of judges, lawyers and activists from Colombia, Ghana, India, Peru, and South Africa—as well as legal experts from other countries—spent two days and nights living and working with a street vendor or waste picker host. Afterward, participants shared personal reflections with their hosts and then engaged in a Technical Dialogue with legal experts from India. Read the reflections of Marty Chen, WIEGO’s International Coordinator, following this Exposure-Dialogue Programme: Urban Renewal, Heritage Sites & Urban Livelihoods: Devi-Ben, Street Vendor.

Governance & Team

Board, Management Committee, and Finance Committee

The WIEGO Board met in the UK from February 28-March 1, 2013. In addition to responding to and approving WIEGO’s five-year Strategic Plan, the Board formulated a succession plan for the senior positions that will become vacant in the next few years.

WIEGO’s Team

After a period of dramatic growth in the size of its team, WIEGO’s team stabilized this year with 35 members—the majority of whom do not work full-time for WIEGO. Four team members work at WIEGO’S Secretariat in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and five work in the WIEGO Office in Manchester, UK. The Communications Team has a hub in Ottawa, Canada. Other team members are located around the globe. The flexibility to engage diverse skills, expertise and perspectives helps ensure WIEGO has the capacity to meet the challenges of its work.

Communication & Dissemination

In addition to managing editing, design and production of numerous publications, many of which are made available at international events, WIEGO’s Communications Team maintains both the WIEGO and Inclusive Cities websites. The websites are rich and constantly updated resources of research, statistics, news and best practice examples from around the globe. New sections that focus on Worker Stories and on the WIEGO Network’s Impact were recently added to wiego.org, which has seen a steady increase in traffic and has been receiving more than 8,300 unique visitors each month.

The Inclusive Cities website is an online knowledge hub in English, Spanish and Portuguese. SEO optimization and social media tools are helping to build the audience for this online knowledge hub. Unique visitors grew to over 90,000 for the year—a 70 per cent increase over the same period in the previous year. To help unify partner news and content, an Inclusive Cities Blog has been integrated into the site.

WIEGO’s Twitter and Facebook channels now have a targetted following. WIEGO also manages Twitter and Facebook for the Inclusive Cities project. Combined, the Twitter feeds allow us to share information, stories and our partners’ news with more than 2,600 followers, many of whom are involved in urban planning, architecture, urban and environmental issues. More than 31,000 people follow either or both of the Facebook pages.

WIEGO’s Global Monitoring System

WIEGO team members continue to track global news coverage on the informal economy and on the occupational sectors with which we work: domestic workers, home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers. News is posted in English, Spanish and Portuguese to the WIEGO website and circulated to a broad audience that includes our partners and journalists. Significant developments are pushed through social media. WIEGO is systematically analyzing the news alongside other information to assess trends over time. 

Publications & Resources

These publications and resources were posted on our website in recent months. All WIEGO-produced material is available for free download.

Achtell, Ernest. 2013. Waste Pickers and Carbon Finance: Issues to Consider. WIEGO Technical Brief No. 7.

Alfers, Laura. 2012. The Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme: Assessing Access by Informal Workers. WIEGO Policy Brief (Social Protection) No. 9.

Carré, Françoise and James Heintz. 2009 (update 2013). Toward a Common Framework for Informal Employment across Developed and Developing Countries. WIEGO Working Paper (Statistics) No. 26.

Carré, Françoise and James Heintz. 2013. “Employment Change and Economic Vulnerability in America.” In Sophia Parker (ed.) Squeezed Middle: The Pressure on Ordinary Workers in America and Britain. Briston, UK: Policy Press.

Chan, Man-Kwun. 2013. Informal Workers in Global Horticulture and Commodities Value Chains: A Review of the Literature. WIEGO Working Paper (Global Trade) No. 28.

Chen, Martha Alter. 2013. “Women in the Informal Economy: Economic Actors and Global Leaders” in Tierney, Trish (ed.) Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change. Institute of International Education (IIE) and the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation.

Chen, Martha, Chris Bonner, Mahendra Chetty, Lucia Fernandez, Karin Pape, Federico Parra, Arbind Singh and Caroline Skinner. 2012. “Urban Informal Workers: Representative Voice & Economic Rights.” Background Paper for 2013 World Development Report on Jobs, World Bank.

Corrarino, Megan. 2012. Using the Right to Information in the Informal Economy: A How-To Guide. WIEGO Legal Brief No. 2.

Dias, Sonia M. and Lucia Fernandez. 2012.“Waste Pickers: A Gendered Perspective” in Powerful Synergies: Gender Equality, Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability,”a report of the United Nations Development Programme. 

Dias, Sonia M., Marlise Matos and Ana Carolina Ogando. 2013. “Mujeres Recicladoras: Construyendo una Agenda de Genero en las Organizaciones de Recicladores” in Castellano, Fernando Lopez (ed.) Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo. Miradas feministas desde ambos hemisferios. España:Universidad de Granada y Fundaci ón Ipade.

Global Alliance of Wastepickers. 2012. “Space for Waste Pickers in Solid Waste Management.” Video produced at the Global Strategic Workshop in Pune, India.

Heintz, James and Francie Lund. 2012. “Welfare Regimes and Social Policy: A Review of the Role of Labour and Employment.” Paper prepared for the Fundación Carolina, Centro De Estudios Para América Latina y la Cooperación Internacional (CeALCI).

Heintz, James and Shahra Razavi. 2012. Social Policy and Employment: Rebuilding, the Connections. WIEGO Policy Brief (Social Protection) No. 12.

IJgosse Jeroen. 2012.Paying Waste Pickers for Environmental Services: A Critical Examination of Options Proposed in Brazil. WIEGO Technical Brief (Urban Policies) No. 6.

Jain, Kalpana. 2012. Health Insurance in India: The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. WIEGO Policy Brief (Social Protection) No. 10.

Jhabvala, Renana, ed. 2013.Special Issue on Unorganized Workers.” The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 48, Issue 3, January.

Lund, Francie and Karin Pape. 2012. “Informal Work, Gender, and Social Protection.” Draft paper for the SATUCC and FES Joint Workshop Trade Unions as Partners, Promoters and Agents of Social Protection, 14-15 November, Lusaka.

Madhav, Roopa and Sankaran Kamala. 2013. “Legal and Policy Tools to Meet Informal Workers' Demands: Lessons from India.” WIEGO Legal Brief No. 1.

Meagher, Kate. 2013. Unlocking the Informal Economy: A Literature Review on Linkages Between Formal and Informal Economies in Developing Countries. WIEGO Working Paper No. 27.

Obino, Francesco. 2013. Housing Finance for Poor Working Women: Innovations of the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India. WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 14

Pape, Karin. 2013. “Why Should Trade Unions Organize Domestic Workers?” Paper for the Irish Union Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union, unpublished. (Forthcoming in German on the Confederation of German Trade Unions [DGB] website.)

Robbins, Glen. 2012. “The Impact of Mega Events on the Working Poor in Host Cities: Lessons for Social Actors from the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.” WIEGO Technical Brief (Urban Policies) No. 5.

Roever, Sally. 2013. “To Raise Vendors’ Incomes, Focus on Reducing the Negatives.” Next City: The Rockefeller Foundation's Informal City Dialogues blog posting,08 March 2013.

Schamber, P. 2012. Proceso de Integración de los Cartoneros de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires. Del Reconocimiento a la Gestión de Centros Verdes y la Recolección Selectiva. (The Process of Integration of Waste Pickers in Buenos Aires: From Recognition to the Management of “Green Centers” and Selective Collection.) Documento de Trabajo de WIEGO (Políticas Urbanas) No. 24.

Sinha, Shalini. 2013. Supporting Women Home-Based Workers: The Approach of the Self-Employed Womens, Association in India. WIEGO Policy Brief (Urban Policies) No. 13

Souza, Bruno Miragaia, Juliana Avanci and Luciana Itikawa. 2013. A Experiência de Advocacy no caso dos Trabalhadores Ambulantes em São Paulo. WIEGO Relatórios Jurídicos No. 3

WIEGO. 2013. “Waste Pickers and the Garbage Crisis, December 2012.”First video in the series Chronicles of a Fight for Inclusion, Bogota, Colombia.

WIEGO. 2013. “Order 275 Dating From 211.” Second video in the series Chronicles of a Fight for Inclusion, Bogota, Colombia.

Wintour, Nora. 2013. “World Cup for All: A Portrait of Street Vendors’ Organisations in the World Cup Host Cities in Brazil.” Inclusive Cities Resource Document.

Other WIEGO Newsletters
Inclusive Cities Newsletter, January 2013, May 2013. (Available in English, Portuguese and Spanish.)

Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter, June 2013. (Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.)

WIEGO Newsletter for Membership-Based Organizations, April 2013. (Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.)

WIEGO-Supported Newsletters
Struggles and Victories: Wastepickers on the Front Lines. Global Alliance of Wastepickers’ newsletter. March-April 2013, May-June 2013.