ILO comes to the rescue of Zimbabwe’s informal traders

By Alois Vinga 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is constructing decent shelters for informal traders in three urban areas in Zimbabwe as part of its Covid-19 response programme. 

To roll out its ‘Safe Markets’ programme, developed together with the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women, ILO has partnered with the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). 

Bulawayo, Chivhu and Masvingo will benefit from the programme that seeks to empower vulnerable women informal traders to withstand the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will focus on areas with urgent need for ablution facilities, as well as other amenities that are critical in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“In Chivhu the traders have failed to pay for pre-paid water, which has resulted with no running water for immediate use at the market and the nearby public toilets servicing the market,” ILO said.

“The absence of water at a market that services the local community of about 10,300 people, as well as long distance buses and trucks, greatly compromises basic hygiene practices that are critical especially during this time of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Betty  Nyereyegona,  NSSA’s chief occupational safety and healthofficer, said the authority had ignored the informal sector for a long time, hence the decision to shift focus. 

Nyereyegona said those targeted under the programme will be equipped with the requisite knowledge on safety and health.

Christopher Muchenje, a Chivhu councillor whose ward covers the area where the food market is located welcomed the initiative. 

Muchenje said the food market was already a health hazard before the advent of Covid-19 and they hoped the intervention by the ILO will make the place safer.

According to various research, Zimbabwe has one of the most informalised economies in the world.

Most of the informal business owners, however, operate from undesignated spaces that do not have proper ablution facilities and where they are exposed to infectious diseases such as Covid-19.

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