WIEGO Digest

Our Strength is in Unity: A Message from WIEGO’s International Coordinator
In 2020, so many of the world’s workers suffered from lost work days, foregone earnings and the menace of a virus that hit the world’s most vulnerable workers harder than anyone else. Dr. Sally Roever looks back at the key struggles and achievements of the informal workers’ movement and shares her hopes for 2021: “As we enter 2021, most workers are still not earning as much as they were prior to the pandemic. This year will be a moment of reckoning around the excessive concentration of wealth and power in many countries, especially as economic recovery lags and the pandemic drags on. To transform the systems driving this injustice and rising levels of inequality, informal workers must be seen and heard at all levels.” Read the full letter.
Top 5 lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on the world’s two billion informal workers. Drawn from WIEGO’s work with informal workers throughout the pandemic, we share the valuable lessons that we learnt this past year, so that they may inform how workers are supported in the year to come.
Human rights violations signal urgent need to improve waste pickers’ working conditions in Latin America

As part of WIEGO’s Waste Pickers and Human Rights project, our team conducted in-depth interviews with waste pickers, observed their work and visited a dozen dumpsites in six Latin American countries. The visits revealed working conditions so poor that they amount to human rights violations. This blog shares WIEGO’s research findings, and introduces new educational tools aimed at supporting workers in defending their rights.

Resources for Workers
Street Vending in Times of COVID-19
Drawing on grounded research and public health guidelines, WIEGO’s Focal City Delhi and the Social Design Collaborative have produced new resources on street vending in times of COVID-19. Created specifically for the Indian context, the manual and printable posters summarize how COVID-19 is spread, outlines how vendors can protect themselves and their customers’ safety during the pandemic and shares practical strategies for arranging public markets with physical distancing. The manual and posters are available in English and Hindi.
Educational Toolkit on Waste Pickers’ Human Rights (in Spanish)
What rights do waste pickers have as people and as workers? Through posters, videos, games and other educational materials, WIEGO’s new toolkit explains how waste pickers can identify situations where their rights are violated, what human rights instruments exist to protect their rights and how to defend their rights. Let us know what you think of the materials by emailing: 
New Publications & Resources
New Series Compiles Policy Insights on COVID-19 & the Informal Economy
Drawing from the COVID-19 Crisis and the Informal Economy Study, WIEGO researchers share findings and policy recommendations which contribute to key debates related to the COVID-19 recovery. 
  • In Policy Insights No. 1, Sally Roever and Michael Rogan explore how lockdowns impacted informal workers’ earnings, whether government relief programs reached workers, and the strategies they used to cope. 
  • In Policy Insights No. 2, Laura Alfers, Ghida Ismail and Marcela Valdivia focus on government cash and food relief measures, whether these programs reached informal workers and whether the measures adequately supported workers through the crisis.
2019-2020 WIEGO Annual Report
The 2019-2020 Annual Report focuses on the impact of WIEGO’s work and how WIEGO programmes support different sectors of informal workers. It also highlights WIEGO's work at the beginning of the pandemic. The report will be available soon in French and Spanish.
WIEGO in the News
HomeNet Thailand & WIEGO Case Study Featured in OECD Development Report
If COVID-19 recovery is to reach the everyday economy, governments will need to redirect social spending and investments to support the activities of workers in the informal economy. In “Building The Everyday Economy From The Ground Up: A Crisis Resilience Strategy”, Poonsap Tulaphan (HomeNet Thailand) and Sally Roever (WIEGO) provide three innovative examples of how HomeNet Thailand is working with authorities on public-private partnerships that support local garment production, explore the potential of food delivery systems that link street vendors with motorcycle taxi drivers and engage stakeholders in designing inclusive public spaces.
PODCAST: Building Back Better with Courage to Redistribute Power
WIEGO's Karin Pape joins Olivier De Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights) and  Kinda Mohamadieh (Third World Network) to discuss the imbalances of power within societies. The episode is part of a series produced by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Geneva.
A new social contract for informal workers: Bridging social protection and economic inclusion
Can the call for a new social contract really help to achieve greater recognition and a more level playing field for informal workers? “Fundamental… is the need to recognise informal workers as ‘workers’ – as legitimate economic agents – and to include them in relevant social dialogue platforms as well as policy-making and rule-setting processes” write Martha Chen, Laura Alfers and Sophie Plagerson in a blog for OECD Development Matters.
Sally Roever: Recovery starts with excluded workers (in Spanish)
The COVID-19 crisis has brought attention to long-standing injustices meted out in the actions of governments and industries. In an interview with Noticias Obreras, WIEGO’s International Coordinator explains that economic recovery must begin by addressing the needs of informal workers.
COVID-19 has posed new challenges to the world’s waste pickers
The pandemic has created new problems for waste pickers around access to waste, safety and the falling prices of recyclables. Featuring examples from the WIEGO Network, author Avantika Chilkoti explains why organized waste pickers are better off on all three counts.
News from the WIEGO Network
WEBINAR: New Report on NYC Street Vendors and Canners Reveals Depth of COVID Exclusion on Informal Workforce
Date: January 27, 2021
Time: 10:00-11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time
Languages: English with Arabic and Spanish translation
In a virtual press conference, Sure We Can, the Street Vendor Project and WIEGO will discuss groundbreaking new research on COVID-19’s impact on New York City's street vendors and canners, and hear from directly impacted workers on their urgent needs for recovery. The research forms part of the WIEGO-led COVID-19 Crisis and the Informal Economy Study.
Register to attend here!
Workers in Public Spaces: Experiences and Proposals related to Regulation (in Spanish)
Workers in public spaces face distinct challenges: stigmatization, criminalization and their rights as migrants are violated. In an online discussion, StreetNet, the Street Vendor Project and the Movement of Excluded Workers-Union of Workers in the Popular Economy (MTE-UTEP for its Spanish acronym) exchanged experiences from Buenos Aires and New York and explored proposals for ways to improve their working conditions.
Home-Based Workers in Kenya Launch New National Organization!
On December 10, 2020, home-based workers from across Kenya inaugurated their national organization, HomeNet Kenya. The newly formed HomeNet Kenya brings together thousands of workers to call for the recognition of their rights as workers and recognition of their contributions to the local and national economy. Like the Home-based Workers Africa page on Facebook and watch the recording of the launch event!
Past Events
In December, the WIEGO Team and members of the WIEGO Network continued to bring their expertise to several webinars and online discussions. Access video recordings and presentations (where available) from these online events below: 
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