Urban informal (community-based) markets are often neglected by public policy — although prevalent, they are not legally recognised, regulated or financed. Yet, these markets are places of resilience and development, where many people derive a good living. They serve as ‘economic shock absorbers’ providing livelihoods in times of uncertainty and hardship, for example after political instability and commodity price drops. They also contribute to connectivity between urban and rural regions, food security and community interactions.
The few development initiatives that support community-based urban markets focus on lifting economic performance through improved infrastructure, increased access to finance, and skills training for vendors — all valuable as long as initiatives are also supportive of the community foundations on which these markets rely. This paper focuses on vendor livelihoods which are deeply embedded in community and social relations, and is the second in the Markets Matter In Brief series. The series is based on a joint project between DPA and UN Women, funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and examines the socio-economic value, opportunities and challenges facing three community markets in Honiara — Fishing Village, Henderson and White River.