Redesigning Urban Markets Post-Covid

BY Carl Manlan and Etta Madete

Across Africa, even in cities with relatively modern infrastructure, many shoppers prefer the informal markets. In our case, both our mothers preferred the fresh produce sold at informal markets by women from the rural areas.

Thus, in cities as far apart as Nairobi and Abidjan, our mothers took us to buy fruits and vegetables sold by women entrepreneurs in the muddy corners of our neighborhoods or at the vendors along main roads.

Reminiscing about these weekly visits to the local food market reminded us of the importance of informal traders in our food system. Most of these traders are women. In Abidjan, for example, the “Marché Gouro” run by women controls 97.5 percent of the fresh food supply and in Kenya women make up 80% of all farmers.