WIEGO and our partners in the Inclusive Cities Project were able to conduct a rapid assessment of the impact of the crisis on the informal economy. During May, June and July 2009, individual and focus group interviews were conducted with home-based workers, street traders and waste pickers in 10 developing cities. Interviews were arranged and in most cases conducted by Inclusive Cities’ partners. (For information on these partners, visit the Inclusive Cities  website.)
This first round of research found that informal workers and informal enterprises were affected by decreased demand, increased competition, and fluctuating prices, and that informal workers were being forced to overwork, take on additional risks, cut back on expenditure (including food and health care), and still see their incomes decline. Drawing on suggestions from workers themselves, the report makes a series of policy recommendations. Results from the first round were collated into a detailed report, a summary report and a fact sheet:
The second round of the research was conducted in early 2010. Interviewers went back to the same participants and asked them about what changes they had experienced. In this round, more attention was paid to identifying and prioritizing policy and organizational interventions. The results were again collated into a detailed report, a summary report and a fact sheet:
This action research aims to raise the profile of the informal economy in policy discourse about the impact of the crisis. The findings have been presented on a range of local, regional and international policy platforms.
This research has been co-ordinated by Zoe Horn, a researcher based in Australia, under the guidance of a technical advisory committee consisting of Marty Chen (WIEGO International Co-ordinator and Harvard University), Rhonda Douglas (WIEGO Global Projects Co-ordinator), James Heintz (University of Massachusetts), Melanie Samson (WIEGO Africa Waste Picker Programme Co-ordinator and York University), Shalini Sinha (WIEGO Home-based Work Sector Specialist), and Caroline Skinner (WIEGO Urban Policies Programme Director and University of Cape Town).
This research into the state of the informal economy is being developed into an ongoing assessment of the impact of a range of countervailing forces on the informal economy.