UTC India Urban Lab 4

Day Two  Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Urban Thinkers Campus India 2015


Urban Lab 4

Informal Livelihoods and Inclusive Urban Planning

11.45-13.00, Jacaranda-1, India Habitat Centre

Keynote : Ms. Namrata Bali, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)

Ms. Bali opened the session on informal livelihoods and inclusive urban planning by talking about Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) which is an organization of poor and self employed women workers, registered in 1972.  SEWA’s main goals are to organize women workers for full employment such that they obtain work security, income security, food security and social security. Informal workers tend to be excluded from city planning and economic development. Hence, there is an urgent need to organize these people so that they are able to sustain their livelihoods. Many attempts have been made to organize these workers formally and a study was conducted for finding out the space needed by the hawkers to carry out their daily task. She emphasized that member based organizations need to be empowered so that they can be able partners with policy makers and planners. Empowered MBOs can jointly solve urban management issues with urban authorities. They can proactively identify solutions to problems together. They are capable of supplying officials with much needed data for planning purposes. They can develop new activity and create new industries. They can participate in policy dialogues and planning and thus, contribute to the public good.

Ms. Laxmi Narayan, Co-Founder of SWaCH Cooperative (Pune) (on integrating waste pickers in municipal waste management)

Ms. Narayan talked about the dilemma that each and every waste picker of our country faces today. She explained this notion by showing two very short videos on the life of waste pickers. A video was shown on how the waste pickers are obligated to segregate the waste at the landfill site. They expose themselves to hazardous conditions so that the recyclable materials can be segregated and recycled. Another video was shown on women members of SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection and Handling) , these women travel 12km everyday and collect wastes from houses which are then segregated by them at the landfill site. These women are content in working for the society, however, they just wish to be paid more in return for their service.

Mr. Arbind Singh, Coordinator, National Alliance for Street Vendors (NASVI) (on urban space and street vendors)

Mr. Singh talked about the problems street vendors are facing, they need to be included in the local economic development. Street Vendors need to be given sufficient skill up gradation training so that they are able to realize their full potential and are able to sustain themselves and their families. He talked about the success of organizing  the Street Food Festival. The street vendors worked for a few days in hotels where they developed adequate skills and also earned money. He said that the potential of the street vendors need to be realized as they can greatly contribute to the economic growth and development.

Ms. Shalini Sinha, Sector Specialist, Home based Workers, Urban Policies Program, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Ms. Sinha talked about the housing and the infrastructure need for the home based workers. She highlighted that house is equivalent to workplace for the workers where each worker needs to be provided with security of tenure along with basic infrastructure services so that he is able to reach his full potential. She explained that insecure housing and single use zoning undermine the productivity of home based workers. Slums should be relocated to places where there is adequate basic infrastructure and frequent public transport services as it would increase productivity of the home based workers. Lack of basic infrastructure leads to decrease in productivity thereby increasing expenditure on basic infrastructure services and increased cost of production. Single use zoning regulations create an uncertain policy environment and the threat of fines, bribes or closures for home-based workers. Thus, giving households the security of tenure and moving from single to mixed use or more accommodating zoning laws would not only support people in investing in and upgrading their home, they would also support the productivity of home based workers.


Submitted by:

Charve Jain, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi


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