Inclusive Urban Design and Planning with Informal Workers (IWs)

                                                              

Inclusive Urban Design and Planning with Informal Workers (IWs)

Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
Solution proposed by: 
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing; Inclusive Cities;
In a Nutshell: 
An integrated approach including: Design and social facilitation: towards solving urban informal workers’ infrastructure challenges; Research: contributing to informed urban dialogue, planning and design processes; Advocacy: to include informal workers’ voices in urban decision making processes; and Education: for professionals and general citizenry to learn about the urban informal economy
Where and When: 
Durban, South Africa (specifically Warwick Junction, Malandela Road & the Central Business District). Our work is placed within a sector-wide (international) context which ensures that learning is scalable and replicable
Challenges: 
With high unemployment, many people take to the streets to earn a living. Few urban informal workers have sanctioned access to productive spaces, let alone infrastructure to shelter them. Most of them are subject to indiscriminate police harassment and displacements whenever new City/private developments arise. The inclusion of informal economic spaces – markets, street-side vending, etc. – into municipal planning/budgeting priorities leads to creating urban environments that are supportive of informal workers’ livelihoods, and vibrant and culturally important. This is critical to transforming the disastrous racial, economic and spatial divisions created during apartheid and perpetuated in the post-apartheid South African context.
Innovation: 
The NPOs collective experience of over 40 years of working with urban informal workers (IWs) - locally, regionally and internationally - has been recognized through numerous awards as an innovative example of an integrated program for the inclusion of IWs combining design and participatory processes. Based on extensive prior knowledge of municipal processes and credibility with IWs, the organization has established itself as a facilitating agent for inclusive development. Its unique contribution is its technical and social facilitation expertise of the urban informal economy, encompassing complementary skills in: urban design/planning, urban management, research, social facilitation and socio-economic development.
Concept: 
Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) is positioned at the intersection of the defining disciplines of urban planning, architecture, social facilitation, law and economic development. This is to ensure that the dictates of these disciplines are represented in the project objectives and addresses the challenges of informality within urban economies in an integrated and holistic manner. The unique attribute of AeT is believed to be the deliberate integration of urban planning and design expertise coupled with comprehensive social facilitation services. The prioritization of the grounded social facilitation seeks to place AeT at the intersection of rights based consciousness, responsive urban management and innovative urban design. Furthermore, AeT as a partner in the international network, the ‘Inclusive Cities’ project, with the collective vision of advocating and assimilating inclusive urban development, is driven by the ethos of ensuring increased voice, visibility and validity for and with informal workers. This is to ensure that city planning is fair in its inclusion of informal livelihoods, city governance processes are representative of the voices and needs of informal workers, city services are accessible and that the city environment is sustainable to the benefit of informal workers equally as to all citizens.
Description: 
Rapid urbanization combined with growing informality is a global phenomenon, as public spaces have become new places of work for informal livelihoods. This urban influx has raised new challenges for both urban managers and informal workers (IWs). State responses to IWs reveal minimal examples of inclusive approaches, emphasizing a challenge in shifting negative perceptions of the urban informal economy towards creative and alternative urban configurations practiced by spatial planners and urban managers. The innovation which AeT has brought is to address the deficit of creative and alternative approaches within urban design and planning which fosters inclusive development with IWs. AeT’s long-term experience in Warwick Junction and other parts of South Africa has confirmed that the provision of appropriate and enabling infrastructure decisively alters the development trajectory to the benefit of IWs utilizing public space. This has contributed to establishing an innovative developmental approach supporting the resilience of IWs that are increasingly being mainstreamed as active contributors within urban economies - with increased voice, visibility and validity. IWs operating from public spaces constitute one of the largest categories of informal work in Africa . Globally, there are generally more women than men in the informal sector . Furthermore, the informal economy of South Africa is predominantly African. Therefore, AeT’s objective is to contribute to redress as a socio-political imperative, by empowering the African population that constitute the urban informal workforce that were previously repressed, marginalized and excluded from economically viable urban environments by the apartheid government. AeT’s bias is towards women, also because they support a large number of dependents.
Impacts: 
AeT has pioneered an alternative approach to urban place-making amongst development professionals demonstrating the value of hybridity in terms of economic activities and land-use. This is contributing to shaping a richer understanding of urban sustainability through inclusion of informal work; and is stimulating institutional frameworks, policy and implementation that are innovative and contextually responsive. Furthermore, AeT has contributed to sustaining the capacitated participation of informal workers, ensuring social sustainability, by locating urban development within their greater influence and removing it from the exclusive domain of City government which is often constrained by implementation problems.

Photo Gallery

photo credits:     With kind permission of Asiye eTafuleni
photo credits:     With kind permission of Asiye eTafuleni
photo credits:     With kind permission of Asiye eTafuleni
photo credits:     With kind permission of Asiye eTafuleni
photo credits:     With kind permission of Asiye eTafuleni