Prevention and mitigation of Covid-19 in the informal economy through safety and health: An action-oriented tool for supporting street and market vendors

This tool is addressed to the public authorities, workers’ and employers’ organizations, informal economy organizations and other stakeholders, who are willing to help street and market vendors improve their safety and health conditions to prevent the risk of contagion and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 at work.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a sanitary emergency, it has also deeply impacted the economy and social environment.

In 2020, the ILO estimated that about 1.6 billion informal economy workers, accounting for 76 per cent of informal employment worldwide, had been significantly impacted by the lockdown measures and/or were working in the hardest-hit sectors.

Lacking social protection benefits and financial support measures, workers in the informal economy face the dilemma of either falling into poverty or risking contagion. The situation is particularly critical for those informal economy workers and enterprises involved in sectors that are at a medium to high risk of suffering a negative economic impact on account of lockdown measures - such as the retail trade.

The absence of any COVID-19-related prevention and mitigation measures at work exposes this population of workers, as well as their families and their clients, to the risk of contagion. In addition, many street and market vendors are engaged in informal food markets that play an essential role in ensuring food security in many countries. If these vendors are not able to operate, food insecurity and poverty will increase.

This tool aims at providing public authorities, the social partners, informal economy organizations and civil society organizations with concrete and practical guidance to elaborate and implement a roadmap to prevent and control the risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 among street and market vendors.

The tool provides ideas about potential control measures that might be implemented given the complexity of the working environment concerned. These ideas are intended to trigger a discussion among the various stakeholders involved and inspire them to identify the most suitable actions. A set of images are provided as visual support. These may be complemented by messages in the local language and used as messages to be shared digitally or by any other means, in accordance with the local practice.