International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 334

Full Length Research Paper

Street vending as the safety-net for the disadvantaged people: The case of Jimma Town

Tamirat Mengistu*
  • Tamirat Mengistu*
  • Jimma University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Nega Jibat
  • Nega Jibat
  • Jimma University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 18 February 2015
  •  Accepted: 01 April 2015
  •  Published: 31 May 2015


Jimma town is one of the largest towns in South Western part of the country; it hosts significant amount of people who make their life through informal sectors in general and street vending in particular. This study was aimed at exploring the street vending activities in urban informal sector in Jimma town with particular reference to three streets with too much concentration of street vendors. The general objective of the study was to explore the existing condition of people engaged in street vending in urban informal sector. The specific objectives of the study are analyzing the socio-economic backgrounds of street vendors, the working conditions of the street vendors at their work settings, exploring the threats and risks faced by them and their managing strategies, the reason why they engaged in the activity of street vendors and analyzing the livelihood contribution of the activity to both the operators and the poor urban dwellers in the study area and the dilemma on street vending activity. Related literatures were reviewed and examined thoroughly to validate the study. The study was conducted in Jimma, western Ethiopia; because the researcher is familiar to the area and the research site is easily accessible than other towns and cities to the researcher. Three streets were purposefully selected. In addition to secondary data, in-depth-interview, key informant interview, focus group discussion and the personal observation of the researcher were used to address the specific objectives stated at the beginning of the study. This study has examined various aspects of the objectives stated and analyzed some aspects in relation to the literature and data collected regarding the contribution of street vending to the safety of the disadvantaged people in urban areas. Thus, some of the analysis include that the street vendors have low socio-economic status which resulted from low educational level and lack of adequate skill to get better employment, ethnic shifting of some activities (casual works and petty trades), the domination of youth in vending, participation of women who have more barriers to enter the formal sector. Some of the reasons for engaging in street vending for some people is because they consider it as a better option to low-wage employment and to supplement the income they get from the formal employment (low-wage earners), but the others are engaged in it due to acute poverty. Some of the vendors romanticize street vending as a vital occupation. They praise it for enhancement in their financial, human and social capital.

Key words: Street vending, urbanization, informal sector, developing countries.