Relief for Informal Workers: Falling Through the Cracks in COVID-19

Recommendations for medium-term program improvements to reach the "informal poor"

Informal workers engage in street vending, home-based work, waste picking, domestic jobs, and other short-term contracts. They may be undocumented, they usually are classified as living just above the poverty line, and they may not qualify for or even seek government support in normal times. As such, they  tend to depend on less formal or unregulated financial services providers (FSPs) such as pawnshops and payday lenders. Identifying, localizing, and reaching the “informal poor” or “invisible poor” is challenging—especially now.

Despite the record scale of response, including government-to-person (G2P) transfers in over 140 countries, relief programs have failed to reach many people in need. This Briefing addresses challenges faced by informal workers and why relief measures already in place may not be reaching them. It then recommends program improvements that can be made in the medium term in the midst of the pandemic and in the long term in anticipation of future global shocks.

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