Building a resilient city for whom? Learning from street vendors’ gendered responses to urbanisation in Hanoi

Building a resilient city for whom? Learning from street vendors’ gendered responses to urbanisation in Hanoi

in Hanoi, agricultural production and tradingsystems have changed since the macro-economic reform in the late 1980s, and the subsequent urbanisation of the city affected livelihoods of smallholders from both peri-urban and rural areas. However, the impacts of change are unevenly distributed among urban populations. some smallholders took advantage of the socio-economic changes as great economic opportunity, while others had few options in their adaptation strategies. People’s different responses to change then influence the city’s social structures through processes such as urban-rural migration and
the marginalisation of the poor in informal food systems.

Drawing upon examples of street vendors in Hanoi, this study explores the different ways in which male and female street vendors respond to change and how their responses shape current informal food systems in Hanoi.
 
Policy pointers:
  • urban residents have different capacities to respond to change. Gender analysis offers a framework to understand the gendered adaptation processes and facilitates an exploration of individual adaptability built upon social relationships
  • informal food systems are operated based on social, rather than economic, mechanisms such as a relationship of trust with producers and support from family and co-villagers. Through this, street vendors provide a diversity of vegetables and animal-source food to a wide range of customers from the income-poor to the wealthy
  • without considering the social dynamics at play and the social inequality that exist in the system, urban planning and policy making may inadvertently support wealthy female vendors and many male vendors. Meanwhile, it may exclude those urban and rural poor smallholders who have already been pushed into the streets as a result of marginalisation through previous experiences of policy change
  • rural and peri-urban agricultural development should be a critical dimension of urban policy making to address the city’s underlying challenges
  • if the policy is intended to strengthen climate resilience of the poor, there is a need to address underlying political mechanisms that continue to marginalise women and poor men into informal systems
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