28/06/2006 4 min #1543

Forces for Change

A new report highlighting the struggles that informal economy organisations are facing in Africa was launched in Malawi by War on Want and its partners.
(Published May 2006)

Thousands of Zambians have been pushed out of formal employment due to the severe economic crisis and the widespread privatisation programme of the 1990s.They are now making a living from selling goods in overcrowded markets or on the streets in unprotected and very insecure conditions.The Zambian government is reluctant to recognise the enormous difficulties faced by marketeers,street vendors and other informal economy workers and has failed to adjust its policies to their needs.During the period of structural adjustment in Zambia in the late 1990s,informal economy associations have been formed in the markets and the streets to voice their concerns and needs to the government.

In response to the formation of these informal economy associations,a participatory consultation process was organised from March to October 2001 by War on Want (WoW)s partner organisation,the Workers Education Association of Zambia (WEAZ).WEAZ was formed in 1997 bythe Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to provide education not onlyto formal workers but also to the educationally,economically and socially disadvantaged.

The consultation process sought to strengthen the voice of informal economy workers and during the process,existing grassroots informal economy associations resolved to promote unity through the formation of a national alliance,the Alliance for Zambia Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA),which was formally launched in October 2002.AZIEA can best be described as a new social movement of street traders and market vendors.During the consultation process,a need for further research on informal economyissues was identified in order to:
better understand government policy in different countries regarding the informal economy in order to promote effective participation of informal economy associations in policy formulation processes;
learn from the experiences of different street and market vendors organisations to improve effectiveness of strategies for organising and advocacy within Zambia;
build links with other informal economy organisations in Africa. This collaborative research project aims to compare the experiences of informal economy associations in Zambia,Ghana,Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa.The following criteria were used to identify the countries to be researched:
presence of a large informal economy;
presence of some form of organisation of informal economy workers;
existence of potential for strengthening links between Zambian informal economy organisations;
existence of different forms of organisation, i.e.organised by a trade union,affiliated to trade union,self-organisation and no affiliation to unions.

Chapter One will outline the theoretical debate on the concept of the informal sector and informal economy as it has taken place since the 1960s and 1970s.It will give an overview of the main issues dominating the debate.

Chapter Two will provide a brief history of the origins of the informal economy and causes of its growth in the four countries that were part of this study:Ghana,Malawi,Mozambique and Zambia.

Chapter Three will look at the current state of the informal economy in the four countries.It will provide statistics on the contribution the informal economy makes towards the economies of our four case study countries,and it will shed light on the extent to which the informal economy provides employment to people in the various countries.

Chapter Four will offer a brief overview of the characteristics of informal economy organisations in selected cities in Ghana,Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

Chapter Five will discuss in more detail the organisational and advocacy strategies of eight case study organisations.

Chapter Six will examine the presence or lack of general government policies towards the informal economy in the context of changing practices at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Chapter Seven will consider policies and regulations at the local government level in Ghana,Malawi,Mozambique and Zambia.

download PFD : waronwant.org

from : waronwant.org