The Phephanathi Project
In isiZulu “phephanathi” means “be safe with us.” The Phephanathi Project aims to make the informal trading area of Warwick Junction more secure and healthy for workers, customers and people passing through, and the officials who manage it. The project is a partnership between Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), a global action-research network which seeks to improve the status of the working poor in the informal economy, Asiye eTafuleni (AeT), a non-profit organization located in Warwick offering urban design solutions to informal workers, and various trader organizations within Warwick Junction.
The challenge of health & safety in an urban informal workplace
Nine different markets make up the Warwick Junction complex, and about 6,000-8,000 traders make their living in the area. Their income supports 70,000-100,000 people. Despite their important role in the urban economy, the traders have little protection against the health and safety risks they face in their workplace. These range from the risk of injury to floods and fire. Labour regulations in South Africa do not protect informal workers who work in public spaces. Urban health and safety regulations are more focused on protecting the public than they are on protecting workers. Getting injured or sick at work is a big problem for informal workers, because they have no employer who can give them sick leave. If they are unable to work, they lose the income that is used to support so many other family members.
The Phephanathi Plan
In order to provide workplace protection at Warwick, everyone needs to be involved in deciding how the Phephanathi Plan should work. Workers especially need to decide how it will be run. A good relationship between traders and the municipality is important to improve working conditions. It is also necessary to have the input of urban planners and occupational health professionals. With this in mind, the following phases were developed as part of our approach to creating a Warwick Junction where traders and their customers are safer and healthier.
Bringing Health Services into an Informal Workplace in Durban, South Africa
Together with our partners in Durban, on the 23rd of April 2015 we took the opportunity presented by empty market stalls in Warwick Junction's Early Morning Market to experiment with bringing health services into an informal workplace. Read more about this work on Asiye eTafuleni's blog.
Read about our latest participatory fire hazard mapping work done together with the eThekwini Metro Fire Department and traders from Warwick Junction in Durban.