The Informal Sector and COVID-19

30th September 2020
Author: Kelbesa Megersa

The vast majority of informal economy workers in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region are faced with occupational health and safety risks – even in normal times. COVID-19 only adds to these challenges. Nevertheless, informal traders in the SSA region have also demonstrated incredible resilience during this crisis period. Several countries in the region have introduced measures that are restrictive to informal workers – especially at the early phases of their lockdowns. As a result of the restrictions on movements and trade, informal traders have largely faced dwindling demands. COVID-19 linked restrictive measures have mostly led to reductions in revenues of informal workers in the short term. Countries in the region are also passing interventions that directly target informal workers and help them to revive their businesses. Similarly, countries like Rwanda and Senegal are working on decongesting markets, providing alternative market space, drawing distance lines, and providing hand-washing stations. However, there is almost no detailed information on the “effectiveness” of the interventions so far. Further, explicit discussions of the “best buys” concept are largely absent in the discussion over COVID-19 and its impact on “informal workers”, the “informal sector” and the “informal economy”.

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Suggested Citation

Megersa, K. (2020). The Informal Sector and COVID-19. K4D Helpdesk Report 890. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


30th September 2020


Continent: Africa

Country: Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal