2017 IAP and Summer

This is an ongoing and evolving project in collaboration with Asiye eTafuleni to evaluate the value of Warwick Markets in Durban, South Africa -- from the perspectives of customers, vendors, and other stakeholders. Through this collaboration, we are also exploring vendors' cost of access to basic amenities -- such as toilets, energy, shelter, storage -- to be able to understand how much vendors invest into their physical workplaces. 



Market Value Comparison - Boston, USA

As retail in the US continues to diversify, offering ways for businesses to engage in markets in many different forms -- street vending, food halls, public markets, food trucks -- there is an opportunity to explore how these modes of retail influence the customer and vendor experience and value creation. 

Boston, like many cities in the US, has both an outdoor, year-round historical market (Haymarket) and has recently launched an indoor, year-round Boston Public Market.  What is value of these markets to Boston area and what does it mean for future investments of the city?


Baseline Survey, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders' Association are doing significant work with street vendors to document existing street vendors' business experience, nature of goods sold and places of sale. The aim is to use this information towards advocacy. 

MIT CREATE has worked with BVTA over the last year to brainstorm the survey design with them through a course at MIT and to provide feedback on their survey findings. 

Baseline Survey, Durban, South Africa

2017 IAP and Summer

This study built on and contributed to Asiye eTafuleni’s ongoing grant from the Rockefeller Foundation on their public lavatories project. It sought to answer: What combination of technical design and management system for an urban public toilet system will meet diverse user needs and water limitations? 

Mapping Storage Access, Supply and Delivery Routes, Warwick Junction, Durban, South Africa

2017 IAP and Summer

For a large number of the 4000 to 8000 vendors who operate in Durban’s thriving Warwick Junction, storage is not available on site. Thus, each day an estimated 3000 to 6000 vendors pack up their goods for transport both to and from their site. Vendors either personally transport their goods or hire barrow operators using pushcarts to transport their goods to storage sites that are off site. 

For this study we sought to understand the location, storage supply (by square meters and by unit size), varying costs of storage, delivery routes and cost, and details about the operations including ownership. Our findings suggest that there is more demand for storage than supply; in addition, there is likely a need for a greater variety of types of storage sites that can offer more closed covering and security of goods. 

Market Design and Permitting for Street Vendors Study, Durban, South Africa

2018 IAP

Durban is one of the few cities in the world actively trying to integrate informal economies within its urban development frameworks. However, there is still the tension of making plans for the spontaneity and dynamism of informality in an urban planning profession oriented towards order and structure. How do we design appropriate spaces and policies for vendors and traders? This study attempted to answer this question by evaluating a new market facility and existing vendor permitting policy for a particular vending segment in Durban to see how they would impact the workers, their micro-enterprise and the associated urban form and function. 

We, in collaboration with Asiye eTafuleni, found that most vendors had multiple selling locations, and thus the existing one-vendor-one permit system would significantly impact their trade. We also found vendor sites were sensitive to foot traffic and location, so allocated locations would have to be chosen with a lot of care. The results of this study are being used to contribute to the dialogue related to alternative permitting policy and for the evaluation of future site designs. 

Working with Working Mothers to Understand Workplace Conditions and Their Relationship to Maternal and Infant Health in Warwick Junction Durban, South Africa 

2018 IAP

A significant percentage of street vendors in Durban are women, some percentage of whom are mothers seeking to balance maternal health, infant health, and optimal work hours. This project engaged working mothers with young children (0 - 2 years old) in Warwick Junction to understand and document their workplace conditions and existing adaptive strategies used for infant care. 

The project outcomes are contributing to a working moms’ working team to identify key opportunities for better supporting working moms at the market. In February 2018, the findings were shared with collaborators in India, who conducted a similar study regarding childcare practices by home-based workers, and the World Health Organization to add to the growing conversation on protecting women’s and children’s health in the informal economy. This was a key first step in deepening an ongoing project between Asiye eTafuleni and the World Health Organization, which is looking to conduct a long-term study of possible mechanisms that could support early infant care for informal workers.

Workshop: Bridging the Formal/Informal Divide for More Equitable and Thriving Urban Economies Durban, South Africa 

2018 Summer

In Summer 2018, we hosted a hands-on workshop to engage eThekwini city officials, street vendors, researchers and practitioners to work to explore the practical design and planning principles for street vending. Durban has a history of investing into design and planning for the informal sector. The Inner-City Local Area Plan and the Regeneration Plan describe city-wide agendas that include investing into the informal sector, along with supporting economic development opportunities, contributing to the vibrancy of economies and public spaces, and responding to climate change. 

Through conversation and participatory activities, we seek to build a foundation for planning models and principles that can both create more equitable space for informal economic activities and contribute to the City’s planning process. 

The workshop was hosted by Asiye eTafuleni, Durban University of Technology Urban Futures Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology CREATE, and eThekwini Municipality Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE). This workshop was supported by a grant from the MIT International Policy Lab to realize and implement results from ongoing research with Asiye eTafuleni through policy.