UNDP Hosts National Dialogue on the Rights of Street Vendors

12 Jul 2013

image UNDP Afghanistan / Mark S. Cogan : Kabul is home to thousands of street vendors, who face the triple challenge facing harassment, violence, and lack of legal protection.

What do money changers, vegetable sellers, small food cart pushers, shoe shiners, itinerant fix-it technicians, roadside hairdressers and mobile food caterers in Kabul all have in common?

They are all considered “street vendors” and are a part of the informal economy. These are people who earn their living by buying, selling and trading goods and services without involvement and support from the government. Many issues surrounding street vendors have arisen including traffic congestion, harassment from powerful authority figures, the development of mafias and even acts of violence. Both street vendors and the local government wish to find a solution to this problem so that greater peace and security in Kabul can be achieved.

Street vendors work extremely hard in dangerous environments for very little reward. Many street vendors support large families from income received selling goods from a single cart or stand. Also, street vendors simply do not receive the same rights and legal protections as big businesses in the formal sector neglecting them of basic security and protection for their businesses.

By improving the legal status of street vendors and recognizing their role as the backbone of Kabul’s local economy, the lives of many Afghan citizens can improve.

To better address the street vendor issue, Kabul Municipality along with support by UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA) Project is hosting a two day workshop on July 13th and 14th to facilitate a national dialogue on labour rights for street vendors. The workshop will provide a forum for local policymakers, government representatives and street vendor unions to streamline thinking on existing challenges and barriers and generate innovative solutions for improving the working conditions of street vendors.

The workshop contributes to the efforts of Municipalities in Afghanistan to readily address the street vendor issue. By exchanging knowledge, ideas and methods for implementing programming, the workshop is a stepping-stone to developing innovative policy approaches towards helping the lives of street vendors in Afghanistan.