1.1 Background of the study
Street food vending is a prevailing and distinctive part of a large informal sector in Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh. The number of street vendors in Bangladesh is large. According to information from Dhaka City Corporation, there are around 90,000 street vendors and here street vending is considered as an illegal trade and the street vendors face constant harassment from the authorities (Street Hawkers, 2010). The vendors have to pay a sizeable part of their income as bribes in order to keep playing their trade. So the problem areas for the street food vendors are business operation, business knowledge, extortion, and product and production. It is commonly viewed in public spaces particularly in the cities and distinctive in the sense that it provides a basic need to the urban inhabitants.
Dardano (2003) define street food as food prepared on the streets and ready-to-eat, or prepared at home and consumed on the streets without further preparation (Muzaffar etal., 2009). The food items are sold by vendors and hawkers especially in streets and other similar public places. The items made available by the street vendors comprise of a diverse range of selection, starting from small snacks such as biscuits, tea, nuts and phuchka/chotpoti to wholesome meals such as ruti-bhaji and rice.
Each street food enterprise is generally small in size, requires relatively simple skills, basic facilities, and small amounts of capital. As such they hold tremendous potential for generating income and employment for the rapidly rising urban population of Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh. So it is largely recognized that street foods play an important socio economic role in terms of employment potential, special income for women, and in serving the food at prices affordable to the lower and middle-income groups and also for development of towns. It is also dubbed as the very essence of a country or region’s tradition. It is believed to mirror the ways of ordinary people reflecting lifestyle, race, and religion.
This paper is an attempt to gain an insight into the nature of the business and housing area of food vendors. The specific objective is to improve their living condition through improving their business condition.
1.2 Objective of the study
The main objectives of the study are:
- To identify the existing business procedure of the food vendors
- To explore the ways to improve their housing condition
1.3 Methodology of the study
Methodology outlines here the procedure applied for execution of the study. It expresses a systematic way through which any study can be done in a fruitful way. The methodology of the study is described below.
1.3.1 Formulation of objectives
Formulation of objective is most important for any study. Without objective it is very difficult to complete a study in a systematic and fruitful way. It also explains the scope of the study and shows the path that the study should follow to achieve the goal. After topic selection objectives are formulated.
1.3.2 Selection of the study area
As the focus of the study is the food vendors, DMC has been selected as the study area because there are potential amount of food vendors can be found along the DMC. It is located almost at the centre of the city and has potential to extract the optimum analysis for the selected study.
1.3.3 Literature review
Literature review in conducting a study is considered as the most important phase of the study. Literature survey has been conducted to know the existing different policies in different countries. Information was collected from a number of books, thesis, reports, internet, journal, etc.
1.3.4 Data collection
Data was collected both from primary and secondary sources. Detail field survey has been done to explore the existing condition of the food vendors. Two case studies have been taken in this study and a questionnaire survey was carried out for the vendors. The most important and significant kind of primary data collection is taking photographs. It provides visual interpretation about the study area as well as study topic. Different types of photographs of the study area have been taken to formulate the study more comprehensive.
1.3.5 Analysis and findings of the study
After collecting necessary data, it was analyzed and findings from the case studies have been explored. Finally the existing business situation and housing condition of the food vendors has been identified.
1.3.6 Recommendations and conclusion
In this stage some design oriented proposals and recommendations with plan have been incorporated based on the major findings regarding housing condition of the food vendors of the study. Finally a conclusion has been drawn on the subject of the study.
Figure 1.1: Flow chart of methodology
1.4 Scope of the study
- Through this study the existing condition of business procedure of the food vendors can be identified. This will reveal lacking in existing regulation and implementation procedure regarding their business operation on street side.
- Through field survey it will be possible to identify the supports and problems faced by the vendors.
- This study also pin point the Govt. organization or NGO’s intervention area to mitigate their problems and to improve their housing condition.
1.5 Limitation of the study
Like many other studies this study has also some limitations which cannot be avoided. Steps are taken to avoid and minimize the limitations. But some limitations cannot be avoided through the study work which is given below:
- Study area: There are huge number of vendors exists in Dhaka city. But due to time limitation only one place has been surveyed. Thus this result may not be a good representative of overall food vendor’s condition.
- Sample size: Another limitation of the study is the sample size. Only two food vendors have been surveyed thus sample size is very small to represent the real scenario.
- Gender issue: Significant number of female food vendors is a distinctive feature of Dhaka city. But only the male food vendors have been surveyed in this study.
- Time dimension: Within this time set for the project required information has to be collected, there was no scope for in-depth study.
- Financial dimension: The study is being suffered from lack of necessary financial support.
Existing Vendors Policy in India
In the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which was elected to govern India in 2004, it was stated that:
The UPA government is firmly committed to ensure the welfare and well-being of all workers, particularly those in the unorganized sector who constitute 93% of our workforce. Social security, health insurance and other schemes for such workers like weavers, handloom workers, fishermen and fisherwomen, toddy tappers, leather workers, plantation labour, beedi workers, etc will be expanded.
In 2009, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, published the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors along with the “Model street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill-2009”.
Feature of the National Policy 2009 (National Policy on Urban Street Vendors in India, 2009)
- It recognizes street vending as an integral and legitimate part of the urban retail trade and distribution system. While street vending is increasingly seen as a major menace in urban areas compounding the traffic problems, the National Policy aims at giving street vendors a legal status and providing legitimate vending and hawking zones in city and town master-plans or development plans.
- Each street vendor will be registered under the supervision of a town vending committee, headed by the respective municipal commissioner, and given an identity card with a code number and category. According to the policy, the spatial planning for earmarking vending zones will be done through photographic digitalized surveys of street vendors and their locations while a comprehensive digitalized photo census, survey or GIS mapping of the existing stationary vendors will also be undertaken for granting the lease.
- The National Policy also recommends the municipal authorities in the cities to provide for the street vendors a range of civic services such as provisions for solid waste disposal, public toilets, and electricity, water, and storage facilities. In exchange, the TVCs will be collecting a registration fee, and a monthly maintenance charge depending on the location and the type of business of the vendor.
- Other important initiatives under the 2009 policy include providing access to credit, skill development, housing, and capacity building for street vendors.
- According to the National Policy 2009, street vendors will be given vocational education and training and entrepreneurial development skills to upgrade their technical and business potential so as to increase their income levels and opportunity costs.
- The National Policy 2009 also talks at length about the expansion of social security in the street vending sector: Street Vendors as a group belong to the unorganised sector of the economy. As such, they don’t have government-assisted social security. However, in some states, social security schemes such as Old Age Pension and other benefits are being provided through the Welfare Boards and similar bodies. But, their number is very small. There are few Non Government Organisations (NGOs), who organize social security schemes for the Street Vendors.
- The National Policy 2009 introduces three zonal categories, namely, “Restriction-free Vending Zones”, “Restricted Vending Zones”, and “No-Vending Zones” which are subject to pivotal function of the TVCs, the process of registration and archive formation, and the modalities of eviction. In demarcating vending zones, the TVCs will maintain a proper balance between the usable space and the number of vendors without compromising the issues of traffic, public health, and environment. This means that at least in the context of the National Policy 2009, legalisation involves privileging of some activities as legitimate and branding of some other as illegitimate deserving punishment and eviction. Policy thus instructs municipal authorities to “Frame necessary rules for regulating entry of street vendors on a time sharing basis in designated vending zones keeping in view three broad categories—registered vendors who have secured license for a specific site/ stall; registered vendors in a zone on a time sharing basis; and registered mobile street vendors visiting one or the other vending zone”.
- Street vendors, as the document tells us, belong to three categories: a) stationary; b) peripatetic; c) mobile. Stationary vendors are those who regularly carry out their business in fixed sites “occupying space on the pavements or other public places and/or private areas”. The policy says that stationary vendors will be allowed to occupy the space initially for ten years with a single opportunity to renew the license for another ten years. Peripatetic vendors are those who occupy “space on a time sharing basis”, while mobile vendors sell goods and services from one zone to another. Spatial restrictions are meant only for the first two categories while “mobile vending should be permitted in all areas even outside the vendors’ markets, unless designated as ‘No-Vending zone’ in the zonal, local area or layout plans under the master/development plan of each city/town”, the policy asserts.
The National Policy 2009 intends to institutionalize a part of the urban street vending through legalization, participatory governance, zoning and registration while excluding the rest as illegal street vendors. This policy seeks to govern street vending primarily by promulgating spatial regulations leaving spaces for the institutionalization of informalities calculated from the above – a regime of extralegal disciplines continuous with formal regulations. The most important thing this policy is that it declares street vending to be a legal retail practice provided the street vendor obeys certain rules and regulations. But unfortunately there is no such policy for food vendors in Bangladesh.
There are 12 vendors on the west part of the Dhaka Medical College (DMC). All of them are male but in other places female vendors is a common scenario. Most of the vendors here sell rice or ‘kichuri’ with egg, different kind of ‘vorta’ of ‘shutki’ (dry fish), egg plant; ‘dall’ (lentil) etc. Some vendors sell ‘Biriani’. Most of the vendors of this place live in Boxi Bazar area because this area is close to their business place and rent of house is also low. Some case studies are given below:
3.1 Case Study 1 and 2
3.1.1 Name: Md. Delwar Hossain and Md. Anwar Hossain
Md. Anwar Hossain is 28 years old and he studied up to class 8. He is the son of Md. Delwar Hossain who is 61 years old. Both of them are food vendors at the west part of DMC. Some general feature of their business and housing condition are given below.
Photograph 3.1: Md. Delwar Hossain Md. Anwar Hossain
3.1.2 Family structure
There are father, mother, one brother and three sisters in this family. All of these family members are related directly or indirectly with their business. As Delwar Hossain bring ancillary products, his wife cook, his daughters helps his wife in cooking and another son helps Anwar in his business. So they have a strong family bonding and all the family members help each other in doing any kind of works.
3.1.3 Business condition
Delwar Hossain is a businessman in DMC area from last 7 years. They were previously lived in Chittagong. In 1991 they lost everything due to deadly cyclone. Then Md. Delwar Hossain’s brother was a small food vendor in Polashi bazaar area. He suggested him to migrate to Dhaka. So he came to Dhaka with his family and manages a one room house in Polashi area with his brothers’ reference. Then he helped his brother in doing his business and gradually started his own business in Polashi area when he saved some amount of money. When his condition is better he moved to DMC area. Then gradually his son started his own business in the same area. Anwar is doing his business from last two years in this place. His initial investment was 15,000 tk and his father gave him this money. So Anwar manage his initial investment without any outside intervention or any kind of interest rate. His per day income is 150-300tk and his father’s per day income is 400-500tk.
3.1.4 Type of Food
They sells rice or kichuri with egg; different kind of vorta of shutki (dry fish) made of egg plant, dall (lentil), tomato etc; fish, different kind of vegetables etc. Per plate price is 10tk and with eggs per plate price is 15tk. Mr. Delwar Hossain’s wife cooks this food in his house in small pots and his daughters helps his wife in cooking food. Then Delwar and Anwar bring the food in their business place using van and sell the foods but both of them do not help in cooking the food.
3.1.5 Type of customers
Rickshaw drivers are the main customers of these food vendors because this type of food is very cheap and within their affordability. There are many Govt. offices and Dhaka medical College are around this place so many 3rd class Govt. officials also prefer this type of food.
3.1.6 Business place
From the survey it has been revealed that this place is very favorable for business. As it is surrounded by DMC, BUET and many offices it generates huge customers for these vendors. Also eviction is also less frequent here, which is the prime concern for their business. They don’t need to give money for their business to local powers. So they can freely operate their business here, as a result they chose this location for business.
This family doing this business in this place in last seven years. Some times police evicted them when police is also under pressure from higher authority. But after 2-3 hours they return back to their place.
3.1.7 Available services in business area
DCC does not provide any kind of service to them. Vendors dispose their garbage on street side. When DCC sweepers clean the street at night or in the morning they collect vendors waste from the road sides. He does his business maximum 10.00PM. He use candle or kerosene lamp because DCC do not provide light to them. There is also no toilet facility in this place.
3.1.8 Housing place
At the beginning of this study there was a common conception that most of the food vendors live in slum areas. But this study reveals that most of the vendors live in Boxi bazaar area. They also live in a rented house in Boxi bazar area for three years. Before this place they live in Polashi area. As Boxi bazaar is close to this business area, it saves time and money. It also requires less effort to bring cooked food from their home to business area. Their house is a three storied building and they lives in 1st floor. There are shops on ground floor and owner of the house stays at the 2nd floor. There are two rooms (10”x10”, 20”x20”) in their house and rent is 6000tk.
3.1.9 Available services in housing area
They dispose their garbage on street side and DCC collect garbage’s from road side. They have to pay 300tk per bulb and they have one bulb in their house. They get water from WASA in their house.
3.1.10 Social network
They have a very good relationship with other businessmen’s. They help each other through social gathering through discussion on any subjects and disseminate information. Money exchange among each other also is a common scenario among these vendors.
Their relation with their neighbors is also very good. They help each other in solving their any kind of family problems or exchanging grocery goods or money between them.
3.1.11 Opinion about holiday market
Holiday market is mainly for the low income people. So vendors support the holiday market because price of the different products is low compare to other places. So they can buy their necessities from holiday market.
3.1.12 Suggestions regarding improving their business
- Provision of license
- Provision of legal space for vending
- Provision of services such as light, waste disposal, drinking water, sanitation facility etc
3.2.1 Name: Md. Abdur Rajjak
He is 55 years old and he studied up to class 5. Some general feature of his business and housing condition are given below.
Md. Abdur Rajjak
3.2.2 Family structure
He has two daughters and one son in his family. He does the katcha bazaars and his wife cook, his one daughter helps his wife in cooking. His son does his own business in another area.
3.2.3 Business condition
He has been doing this food businessman in this place from last 8 years. Before that he sells different snacks like ‘Peyaju’, ‘Beguni’ and ‘Chop’ in Polashi bazaar area. That time his business was very small and his per day income was 100-200 tk but he save money and started his food business in DMC area with initial investment of 20,000 tk. Now his per day income is 300-350tk.
3.2.4 Type of Food
He sells kichuri with eggs or shutki vorta or dall vorta. Per plate price is 10-20 tk depending on with or without egg taken by a customers. His wife cooks this food in his house. He brings the food in his business place using van and sells the foods.
3.2.5 Type of customers
Rickshaw drivers & 3rd class employees are the main customers of these food vendors because this type of food is very cheap and within their affordability. There are many Govt. offices and Dhaka medical College are around this place so many 3rd class Govt. officials take this type of food.
3.2.6 Business place
From the survey it has been revealed that this place is very favorable for business. As it is surrounded by DMC, BUET and many offices it generates huge customers for these vendors. Also eviction is also less frequent here, which is the prime concern for their business. They don’t need to give money for their business to local powers. So he can freely operate his business here, as a result he chose this location for business.
He has been doing his business here from last two years. Some times police evicted him when police is also under pressure from higher authority. But after 2-3 hours return back to his place.
3.2.7 Available services in business area
DCC does not provide any kind of service to them. Vendors dispose their garbage on street side. When DCC sweepers clean the street at night or in the morning they collect vendors waste from the road sides. He does his business maximum 10.00PM. He use candle or kerosene lamp because DCC do not provide light to them.
3.2.8 Housing place
He lives in a rented house in Bokshi bazar area for five years. Before this place he lives near old Prison. As Bokshi bazaar is close to his business area, it saves time and money. It also requires less effort to bring cooked food from his home to business area. His house is a Two storied building and he lives on 1st floor. The room size is approximately (9”x12”) in his house and rent is 2500 tk.
3.2.9 Available services in housing area
They dispose their garbage on street side and DCC collect garbage’s from road side. He pays 250tk per bulb and he has one bulb. He gets water from WASA in his house.
3.2.10 Social network
He has a very good relationship with other businessmen’s. They help each through social gathering through discussion on any subjects, disseminating information. Money change among each other also is a common scenario among these vendors.
Their relation with their neighbors is also very good. They help each other in solving their any kind of family problems or exchanging goods between them.
3.2.11 Opinion about holiday market
Holiday market is mainly for the low income people. So vendors support the holiday market because price of the different products is low compare to other places. So they can buy their necessities from holiday market.
3.2.12 Suggestions regarding improving their business
- Provision of license and provision of legal space for vending
- Provision of services such as light, waste disposal, drinking water, sanitation facility etc
- Ensure of security
4.1 Recommendations for improving vendor’s business condition
- Adopt National Street Vendors' Policy
- Recognition of street vending as an occupation
- Identification of the state body responsible for street and market vendors' and hawkers' issues
- Registration of vendors and hawkers
- Prevention of illegal payment to police and gangsters
- Welfare and social protection of street vendors
- Extension of low interest financial support by government
- Special protection to women vendors working on the streets
- Elimination of child hawkers and social rehabilitation
- Consolidate unity among street vendor's organizations to achieve common goals and greater welfare among those working in the sector
- Develop integrity with the trade union movement to promote workers' rights and social protection, position and strength
- Develop networks and collaboration among street vendors' organizations in which the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) can play the role of catalyst.
4.2 Recommendations for improving vendors housing condition
- Implementing the National Housing Policy: This is a priority for any sustainable improvements for Dhaka’s poor. A key element of this policy is in the enforcement of basic property rights. Destruction of squatter settlements should be limited to necessary actions of redevelopment or infrastructure building and should be accompanied by relocation plans for evicted squatters.
- Strengthening public institutions to implement the National Housing Policy: Much stronger and more credible public institutions are needed for this enabling strategy to work. The multiplicity of public agencies intervening in housing programs is inefficient and could be reduced with each agency having clear roles and responsibilities, operating under the umbrella of the National Housing Policy. If the National Housing Authority continues to be the overseer of the National Housing Strategy, it would be more effective if they focus on a policy and regulatory role rather than implementing housing projects.
- Improving legal and regulatory framework: From existing material and discussion with experts, there is clear scope for efficiency gains in the land and housing markets, due to constraints caused by the existing laws and regulations applying to zoning, land subdivision, and building. In a first stage, it is worth examining possible “quick gains” which could arise from the removal of well-identified constraints which increase the cost of formality and reduce the fluidity of the housing market. Those include:
- Suppressing of minimum lot size for land subdivisions;
- Allowing for the possibility of bringing utilities to housing units built without title / building permit;
- Lowering registration fees for land;
- Lowering transfer fees for land and housing;
- Reviewing of the existing regulations, with the aim of removing the main obstacles to the smooth functioning of the market.
- Govt. initiatives in implementation procedure: Govt. should improve food vendors housing condition in phase wise basis. At the first stage Govt. can improve their existing housing situation by ensuring tenure security. If tenure security is ensured then all other authorities will provide the utility services and facilities like water, gas, electricity, garbage disposal etc. It will improve their environmental and hygiene condition.
- Housing finance: Loan & land facilities from government should be available. If govt. takes initiative to acquire the land and if BHBFC provides loan to the company for the development, the problem can be solved. If government offers the company to do business in rural areas by joint venture agreement, it will be very productive. Interest rate of institutional loan should be reduced.
- Registration procedure: Existing registration procedure is lengthy and related cost is also very high. Many incidental costs are incurred for registration. It should be checked. Existing process of VAT, tax and registration should be made easier.
- Sites and services method: Sites and services for residential accommodation of low and middle income group of people should be developed.
- Strengthening the performance of RAJUK: A full reform of RAJUK is needed. This could be based on the separation of the multiple functions it now exerts (planning, planning enforcement, land servicing, and housing projects), which generate conflicts of interest and are not implemented efficiently at present.
- Planning functions should ultimately depend on the local governments concerned, and could be assumed by a body gathering Dhaka City and the municipalities within the current RAJUK jurisdiction (5 municipalities). Intra-city planning in Dhaka should be reinforced and DCC given increased planning authority within its boundaries.
- Planning enforcement should be given to another body to avoid conflicts of interest. Within DCC it should be done by the technical services of the city. By the same token it should be given adequate means and manpower.
- The private sector should be allowed to compete on level ground for land servicing though there is room for a public land services, and the right of eminent domain for public utility projects. The rights of owners, however, have to be better protected.
- Construction of housing units for medium or high income households should be left to the private sector. Low-income housing projects could be done by a specific entity, but RAJUK is not the best candidate since its mandate was never focused on the poor.
- Private sector: Private sector should be encouraged with necessary incentives for its greater participation
- Initiating pilot projects in poor areas in partnership with NGOs: NGOs have not been active in the housing sector due to perceived risks. However, NGO programs such as NUK’s projects of dormitories for female garment workers, BRAC’s program for poor renters have worked well. It would be useful to foster the piloting of additional programs aimed at improving land and housing conditions for the poor with careful monitoring and evaluation so they can be scaled up over time.
- Developing mechanisms for better accountability for land use and better coordination of services: A first step would be undertaking an inventory of public land belonging to different ministries and agencies within the city. This inventory could be the basis for a strategic plan for public land use in the future. Vacant public land in excess of critical city needs could be released on the market. Solutions for promoting housing upgrading and investment on squatted tracks of public land could include giving proper titles to long-term residents with programs targeted to low income households.
- Promoting coordination between DCC, RAJUK- the planning authority, line ministries and utility agencies in urban projects in Dhaka: While ad hoc committees can be a viable short or medium-term solution to coordination problems, in the long run, the Dhaka City Corporation should be given more means to achieve pro-poor goals. This long-term goal should be explicitly linked to any progress in the decentralization process in the country.
The problem of street hawking is not only a national issue but also an international one. Lack of gainful employment coupled with poverty in rural areas has pushed people out of their villages in search of a better existence in the cities. These migrants do not possess the skills or the education to enable them to find better paid, secured employment in formal sectors and so they have to settle their work in the informal sectors. Low skill rural migrants, exists in all countries of Asia such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, and Vietnam etc (Street Hawkers, 2010). Again some workers, who were earlier in the formal sectors, lost their jobs because of closures, downsizing or merger in the industries and had to seek low-paid work in the informal sectors in order to survive.
Unfortunately, the governments in these countries have more or less refused to recognize street vending as a legal activity and view these vendors as irritants to the city's development. Like many other countries Bangladesh Govt. do not give legal recognition to street vending. India has recently framed a national policy for street vendors, which if implemented, will provide security to them. At present, the street vendors face constant harassment from the authorities.
Increasing number of food vendors is a concern for Govt. But it has tremendous potential for generating income and employment for the rapidly rising population on the one hand. And at the other hand this business serves those section of our society who has no access to the modern well furnished restaurants, hotels etc. due to their low income, low living standard etc. As majority of the population are low income group these food vendors are essential to serve them within their affordability. The mobile food service system is part of a survival strategy that attempts to maintain and expand the bare subsistence proceeds of poor urban households in a situation of economic crisis. Therefore, the policy-makers should pay specific attention to building local capacity in order to support and improve opportunities for job creation that will uplift the economic well-being of poverty-stricken families and there by contribution to improve housing condition of street food vendors.
- Street Hawkers (2010), “International Status of Street Hawkers”, URL: http://www.nndccomputercentre.com/street-hawkers1.html accessed on 15th February 2010.
- Muzaffar, A.T., Huq, I. and Mallik, B.A. (2009) “Entrepreneurs of the Streets: an Analytical Work on the Street Food Vendors of Dhaka City” Journal of International Journal of Business and Management, 4, 80 – 88.
- National Policy on Urban Street Vendors in India (2009), URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23165900/National-Policy-on-Urban-Street-Vendors-in-India accessed on 15th February 2010.