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Urban Livelihoods

Journal, 308 pages

The network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) guest edited this issue. It has worked since 1997 to improve the situation of the working poor in the informal economy. This issues' themed papers focus on informal employment in particular sectors and contexts, providing comprehensive surveys of the related literature and grounded accounts of the working lives of specific groups. The occupational groups span street vendors, waste pickers, fisherwomen, and home-based workers.

Geographically, the papers examine India (Ahmedabad and Udupi), South Africa (Durban), Tanzania (Arusha) and Peru (Lima). Thematically, the papers explore the ways gender, youth, class and caste intersect with employment that is often precarious or under-valued, as well as the resourceful solutions that the urban informal workforce is drawing upon to improve health, safety, and earnings. This leads to concrete policy suggestions for ways to strengthen urban livelihoods. A strong gendered component runs through the papers on urban livelihoods, as WIEGO particularly works to mobilize female workers.

Papers on climate change in cities address adaptation at two different levels: collaborative production of a municipal climate adaptation plan in Bergrivier, South Africa; and the adaptation of wetland communities in Kampala, Uganda to flood risk and other vulnerabilities.

In the Feedback section, papers on India analyse the successes and failures of initiatives in three informal settlements: grassroots efforts to upgrade housing in Mumbai, basic service provision to migrants in Ludhiana, and canal reclamation that threatened to displace canal-side residents of Kolkata. Papers on China make use of political and historical analysis, to understand urbanization policy before/after the Millennium Development Goals, and the factors behind China’s urban sprawl in the past 20 years. The remaining papers discuss: a new type of toilet in Kumasi, Ghana; and efficient lighting technologies in the Kibera settlement of Nairobi.

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