Creating employment in the urban informal sector

Supporting job creation for the urban poor in the informal sector
The informal sector is extremely important for the working poor and for large urban centres in the developing world, where it accounts for half or more of urban employment and perhaps one third of what is produced in urban areas. Its role in poverty alleviation is now widely recognized. With increasing pressure on developing countries to adopt structural adjustment programmes, there is growing need for policy advice to minimize, if not reverse, the adverse employment consequences of such programmes within the informal sector.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends the generation of employment for the urban poor, particularly women, through provision, improvement and maintenance of urban infrastructure and services and support for economic activities in the informal sector, such as repairs, recycling, services and small commerce.

ILO assists governments to create additional employment and raise incomes and productivity of workers in the informal sector. Particular attention is given to the consequences of structural adjustment policies on employment and income generation in the informal sector.

In Colombia, some 25,000 scavenger families, or recicladores, who earn their living collecting trash, have been given better working and living conditions thanks to the efforts of a local NGO which helped then organize themselves into a national association. Benefits now include 30% increased income and improved transport, quality control systems, child education, access to social security and women's rights.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities