A Seller’s Market - UNDP Helps Street Vendors in Kabul

Mohammad Anwar, father of five, sell shoes at Leci-e-Mariam Market in Kabul. Mohammad earns between 300 to 500 Afghanis a day. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / Farhad Zalmai / 2015

Kabul, 13 January, 2015 — Every day in Kabul, around 500,000 street vendors rise with the sun and rush into the city to earn a living. Managing this huge influx of people is a major challenge for Kabul municipality and the police. They don’t want blocked roads and traffic chaos, but the vendors also need to earn a living.


UNDP, the government, the police and the city authorities all got together to find a solution. First, we drew up a clear policy defining street vendors and establishing their rights. We also formed associations of street venders who could work to protect those rights.


One of those vendors is father of five, Mohammad Anwer. During 20 years of selling sandals at Kabul’s Leci Maryam Market – one of the largest in the country – Mohammad has seen many ups and downs.


He used to be harassed by the police, so Mohammad and the other vendors had to work like thieves, selling when they could and hiding whenever the police came.


“Police destroyed our carts,” Mohammad recalls. “Those were hard times, when we couldn’t work for weeks on end.”  


But once Mohammad joined the street vendors association, he was protected and the police no longer bothered him. Now he can earn up to 500 Afghanis a day.


“For the last year and a half, we have been happy. Now we have a dedicated place to work,” he says.


“If the police ask us to leave the market, we can call our representatives to sort things out.”


This initiative is part of UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights for Afghanistan project (JHRA). Work is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Kabul Municipality and the Traffic Police. It is funded by Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.


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