Since Angola became independent, the informal businesses have been the only way to make a living for many people in the country. Indeed, from north to south and from west all the way to the east, the informal businesses sector constitutes a structuring influence in the organization of the angolan economic and social life.
In Angola, informal markets are the main source of food goods for the majority of the population, playing an important role in the country’s food supply chain. Many angolan families rely on trading or selling at informal markets to secure their daily income. According to the Angolan National Institute of Statistics (INE), in Angola up to 72,6% of jobs and income for living are from the informal economic sector.” (INE, 2019)
For someone whose income depends entirely on how much they sell per day, the restrictions imposed by the presidential decree nº 81/20 from March 25, to manage the COVID-19 outbreak, was felt very hard in the lives of the informal traders and their families.
COVID-19 brings UNDP and the Ministry of Territory Administration together
Additional to already positive cooperation with the Angolan Government, UNDP has joined forces with the Ministry of Territory Administration, through the Governance Unit, in a pilot project that aims at supporting the safe functioning of commercial activities in the municipal marketplaces. The Government has been keen on creating policies and measures to support the informal sector not only as a way to boost the country’s economy, but also to confer more dignity to the workers of the informal business sector and regulate their activities.
The first phase of the pilot project will be implemented in 6 major municipal marketplaces, located in 5 different provinces, just as the map below illustrates: There are two parallel objectives: on the short term it aims at contributing to the immediate response to COVID-19, while on the longer run it hopes to improve the overall function of the markets
Challenging working conditions during COVID-19 response
The current unusual circumstances have been very challenging for all stakeholders in this project. Coordinating an activity such as this, when there are time constraints, scarcity of funds, challenges with communications, different institutions with different Standard Operating Procedures, several people sitting in 5 different locations of the country, is not an easy job to pull off.
Overlapping agendas triggered by the COVID-19 emergency response have also been one of the major constraints for UNDP AccLab and Governance Unit staff involved in this project and directly responsible to coordinate its chronological steps.