Hawker associations march to the mayor's office demanding the immediate return of inner-city informal traders to their trading spaces in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Friday.  Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Hawker associations march to the mayor's office demanding the immediate return of inner-city informal traders to their trading spaces in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, in September 2013. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

THE informal economy is either subjected to draconian policing or left to neglect.

However, it "is a critical access point for food for most poor urban communities"‚ so authorities and role players should pay it more heed as the benefits it holds in addressing food insecurity "are potentially enormous".

That is the reasoning behind a workshop entitled "Informality and the urban food system"‚ taking place at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business on Monday.

Presenters "will discuss their research findings about urban food insecurity and informal trade in Cape Town and other cities in the Global South — such as Kingston‚ Jamaica; and Nanjing‚ China — with alarming levels of food insecurity"‚ a statement from UCT said.

"Migrant traders and the role of women will also be discussed."

The statement said that the informal economy was a "largely unrecognised sector (that) also provides livelihoods — a recent report by the City of Cape Town suggests that this sector could be the city’s fifth-largest source of employment (creating more jobs than the construction industry)".

Speakers include Prof Jonathan Crush (UCT department of geological sciences) and Prof Edgar Pieterse (UCT school of architecture‚ planning and geomatics)‚ who are principal investigators in the Hungry Cities Partnership.

The is a research partnership led by the African Centre for Cities at the UCT and the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University‚ Waterloo‚ Canada.

The cities involved are Bangalore‚ Cape Town‚ Kingston‚ Maputo‚ Mexico City‚ Nairobi and Nanjing.

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