The introduction of and/or change in technology tools and city level technology systems can generate winners and losers across cities and countries, along value chains and across work sectors in the formal and informal economy. But how do these changes affect informal workers? How does it affect their livelihoods?
In 2015, Practical Action began an exploratory project to unearth the stories of change experiences by informal workers across 5 cities around the world: Lima, Nairobi, Dhaka, Ahmedabad, and Durban. The research, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, explored the role technologies play in creating or hindering work opportunities for poor urban workers and the emergence of more inclusive economies.
The research was carried out in partnership with WIEGO, University of Edinburgh Global Development Academy, University of Lima, University of Nairobi, University of Dhaka, Manchester University Global Urban Research Centre, and Mesopartner.
Through a combination of participatory research with informal workers at the city level, SenseMaker, and an examination of emergent trends and technologies at national and global levels, the Technology & Future of Work project aimed to unearth the stories and experiences of urban poor workers with technology and identify signals of change which may pose disruptive potential to livelihoods and work opportunities, while putting the voices, perspectives and experiences of poor urban workers at the heart of the research.
The research and analysis aims to inform the Rockefeller Foundation's inclusive economies work, and our own understandings of how poor people use and interact with changing technologies and work opportunities in urban centres. It will also help to inform workers in each city, supporting them to craft improved livelihood strategies to grasp emerging opportunities, and mitigate negative impacts of technology change.