Asiye eTafuleni is a South African NGO set up to support informal traders, market vendors, and others who use public space in their work.
In markets all over the world, ‘shopping’ essentially consists of large informal markets where traders, bakers, and purveyors of all kinds set up stalls and sell their wares. In many cases, a particular vendor may have had the same stall, in the same place, for years or decades without any sort of formal tenure or right to use that space. Without knowing the formal mechanisms of planning, zoning and design, the trader comes at a serious disadvantage in any debate about how public space is used. Frequently, the end result is eviction.
Asiye eTafuleni seeks to address that problem by putting the skills and knowledge of designers on the side of the vendors. Asiye eTafuleni boasts a diverse team of architects, social scientists and informal traders. This diversity gives it both the technical skill and the street credibility to work with the trading community in developing higher levels of organization and formalizing planning within the markets.
Their most visible project has been at Warwick Junction, Durban’s primary transportation node. The hub accommodates approximately 460,000 commuters and 5,000 traders per day. Within Warwick Junction, Asiye eTafuleni has taken on a variety of projects, principally around creating infrastructure for traders.
However, it has also extended to touristic projects as well as forms of advocacy that work to defend the vendors’ rights against encroaching development.
The group’s work in Warwick was captured as a book, Working in Warwick, detailing the narratives of street vendors – how they live, and how they live with the city. The text illustrates the challenges maintaining a rich informal community against forces of economic development – a challenge currently faced by vendors all over the world.