Researchers say members of informal sector can be helped through numerous associations and groups they have formed in different parts of the country.
The recommendation is a result of a research conducted by the University of Mzumbe in collaboration with the University of Nairobi and University of Roskilde in Denmark from 2017-2020 in Tanzania and Kenya. It was funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
The research, “Informal Sector and Social Protection” investigated the extent to which informal sector workers in construction, transportation and micro entrepreneurship access, through their associations, social protection schemes. Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Nairobi and Kisumu cities were used as a case study.
“There is a need to extend the legal framework to cover transport sector informal workforce,” said a senior researcher and Project Leader from Mzumbe University, Dr. Godbetha Kinyondo during the dissemination workshop of the research findings to different stakeholders in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
She said the government should develop capacity building programs, and encourage participation of informal transportation workers, and their associations in policy making process. Also recommended was a review of various social protection programs so as to accommodate specific needs of the informal transport sector, so as to secure members economic and social rights.
The researcher said to improve overall enrolment rated into formal social protection schemes, the government must ensure appropriate benefit packages, create comprehensible information and establish convenient enrolment for informal transport workers.
Another researcher, Aloyce Gervas also from Mzumbe University note that the ongoing growth of informal workers in construction sector should go hand in hand with the availability of health insurance covers, pension schemes, increased health and safety at work places among other benefits.
“There is a need to review a national construction sector policy to recognize informal construction workers,” said Gervas, adding that the Health and Safety Policy should also be reviewed to address issues of concerns afflicting informer workers working in formal work settings such as construction workers.
Prof Winnie Mitullah, a senior researcher from the University of Nairobi said the quest to improve informal sector need a multisectoral approach and collaboration among countries to bear intended results. She said researchers, government officials, development partners and micro entrepreneurs must work together and eventually institutionalize recommendations to attain sustainable development.
Anne Kamau, a researcher from the University of Nairobi, Institute of Development Studies said social protection coverage among informal transport workers in Kenya is low.
“This issue needs further reflection through stakeholder engagement with a view to ensuring that informal transport workers have adequate and sustainable social protection coverage,” she said.
Gaston Kikuwi, a Chair of VIBINDO Society which is an umbrella organization of informal sector in Tanzania with 741 associations with more than 68,000 total members said addressing social protection in informal sector that considerably contributes to the national work force and economic development was very important.
“We need a strong political will in implementing the study recommendations for the benefit of members in informal sectors in our countries,” said Kikuwi.
Earlier, opening the workshop on behalf of Mzumbe University Vice Chancellor, Prof Lughano Kusiluka, Dr Mary Rutenge hailed the researchers for accomplishing the study that aims at improving the wellbeing of citizens in the two countries and urged appropriate authorities to work on the research recommendations.
Some of the notable outcomes of the four year research are publication of the book “Social Protection and Informal Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lived Realities and Associational Experiences from Tanzania and Kenya” and producing two PhD holders, one in each county. The book that can be accessed online was launched during the workshop.
A total of 250 commuter bus workers and 158 motorcycle drivers were involved in the study in Tanzania. 212 construction workers were involved in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. A survey of 200 informal transport workers was undertaken in Kenya.