Informality as Part of the Broader Urban System: The Emerging, Dying or Die-hard Sector?


  • Innocent Chirisa
  • Patience mazanhi


urban informality, sustainability, development, livelihood, poverty


The rise of urban informality has been triggered by plunging economic systems, high urbanisation, unemployment and high poverty levels in most developing countries. Mass populations flocking into urban areas from rural areas in search of better levelling opportunities are welcomed with unemployment and a lack of sustainable job prospects. As a result, they opt for informal economic activities. Slowly, but significantly, the informal economic sector has saved the majority who now depend on it for their livelihoods. Despite the harassment by government and its officials against informality, the sector has continued to thrive. Government efforts to efface urban informality have not been followed with complementary efforts to replace the informality with the formal. The informal sector has transfigured to become the new formal amidst economic challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has disturbed economic performance. Against this backdrop, this article explores the informal sector’s potential and relevance for sustainable development. It uses a desktop approach exploring various literature sources to support the arguments raised therein. The informal sector has become part and parcel of today’s cities that needs to be harmonised into the formal sector as both a complement and supplement.