Zambia first recorded two cases of Covid-19 on 18 March, 2020. However, little was known about how Covid-19 had impacted on different categories of informal economy workers in rural and urban Zambia. In order to address this gap and inform policy and practice on how to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 on informal economy workers, a qualitative study was undertaken by Kabelenga and Chola between September and October, 2020 in six (6) districts of Zambia which included both rural and urban districts.
Respondents were associations of informal economy workers and some government officers. Findings of the study were validated by informal economy workers who participated in the study and government officers on 18th February, 2021.
At the time of this study (16th September to 23rd October, 2020), and validation meeting on 18th February, 2021, all respondents in rural and urban districts reported that Covid-19 pandemic had negatively affected all categories of informal economy workers in similar ways. It had weakened and/or destroyed the economic, social, cultural, nutritional, psychological, and agricultural and environment well-being of all informal economy workers. Sadly, enough, despite all the negative impacts, the overwhelming majority of the associations of informal economy workers reported that they had not received any emergency Covid-19 social protection support from the Government of Zambia.
Findings of this study have established that to mitigate the negative effects of Covid-19 on informal economy workers, multiple forms of social protection are simultaneously needed by each category of the association of the informal economy workers. However, the major ones should be provision of: (1) ‘economic’ social protection, (2) ‘health’ social protection, and (3) ‘old age’ social protection. The study introduces numerous detailed recommendations that aim at reducing harms of current and future shocks on the informal economy workers of Zambia.
These recommendations have been generated through interviews and workshops with the respondents of the study: associations of informal economy workers and some government officers.
The Joint Press Statement of the authors, Dr. Isaac Kabelenga and James Chola, and the Zambia Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is available here!
Dr. Isaac Kabelenga (PhD) (Principal Investigator) is a Lecturer for Postgraduate and Undergraduate Students, and Coordinator for Public Discussions on Social Protection at the University of Zambia, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Social Development Studies.
James Chola (Mr) (Co-Investigator) is Dean of the School of Arts, Education and Social Sciences at Cavendish University in Zambia.