Making Space for the Poor: Law, Rights, Regulation and Street-Trade in the 21st Century

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The global economic crisis brings into sharp relief the crucial role of the urban informal economy as a refuge for the working poor and major component of city economies. In many cities of the global south, informal employment now provides 60-80 per cent of urban jobs.  Street trade is one of the informal economy's largest, most visible and contested domains. Legislation covering street trade is complex, poorly documented and erratically applied, and many traders face constant risk of devastating and unpredictable evictions.

The research aims to explore the fragmented and plural regulatory environment facing street traders, and conflicts between formal and informal regulatory systems that deepen vulnerabilities for the working poor, especially in contexts of economic turmoil. 

The research draws on three core academic debates: the role of law in urban development; the paradigm of legal empowerment of the poor, and the potential of rights-based approaches in supporting fragile urban livelihoods.

Case studies in four cities with different legal traditions, Dar es Salaam, Ahmedabad, Durban and Dakar, draw on extensive interviews with street traders, local authority officials and others.  Researchers will work with street trader organisations to ensure that outputs contribute to improved policy development and support informal economy livelihoods.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
ES/H034692/1
RES-167-25-0591
Project Status: 
Closed
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Cardiff School of Planning and Geography
Fund Start Date: 
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Fund End Date: 
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Fund Currency Code: 
GBP
Fund Value: 
254275
cities
community-based-regulation
development
governance
government-regulation
illegal-cities
law
legal-empowerment
livelihoods
right-to-work
self-regulations
street-trade
urban-development
Urban-informal-economy
urban-poverty-reduction
urban-rights