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They work without contracts or the protection of labor laws. They drive taxis, sell vegetables, clean homes, take odd jobs in construction, collect garbage, and work in food services. Part of the informal sector, they nevertheless provide vital services around the world.

They are day laborers—women and men who depend on daily wages to feed their children that night. Day laborers take jobs as they find them, relentlessly pursuing employment to provide for their families. The BBC News reports that “most do not have access to pensions, sick leave, paid leave or any kind of insurance. Many do not have bank accounts, relying on cash to meet their daily needs.”

Not surprising then, in the wake of COVID-19 and economic shutdown, it is the day laborers who suffer the most. In a crisis, they are the most vulnerable, the most exposed—without safety nets or savings to fall back on. Continue Reading…


Speaking with Gladys Mugabe is like turning the pages of a Zimbabwean history book. She readily reflects on the early days of the country’s independence in the ‘80s; the prosperous days of the early ‘90s, when the industrial sector of Bulawayo—her home and Zimbabwe’s second largest city—was thriving; and the late 2000s, when the former “breadbasket of Africa” became infamous for bread lines.

Zimbabwe has experienced a number of shocks to its economy in recent decades, including controversial land reforms, the demolition of urban slums, drought, and hyperinflation. In 2008, monthly inflation neared 80 billion percent; in 2009, Zimbabwe adopted the U.S. dollar in an attempt to restore stability and reverse economic decline.

In some ways, the country appears as a shadow of its former self. Driving through Bulawayo’s business district, you’ll see shuttered factories—some emptied entirely, others inhabited by squatters—street lights that no longer illuminate, and padlocked doors. Against this backdrop of economic collapse stands the mechanism of most Zimbabweans’ survival: the vibrant informal economy.

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