Livelihoods, “Informality” and the Changing Nature of Work

Call for papers, Volume 3, November 2023

The global economy is facing a confluence of crises. These include a protracted economic crisis, a debt crisis, a climate crisis, an energy crisis and high levels of inflation. Persistent economic crises have already placed downward pressures on employment and livelihoods and these trends are likely to continue (United Nations, 2022).

As was the case with previous economic crises, international agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have called for monetary and fiscal tightening through macroprudential policies. The IMF is calling for “near-term” fiscal measures to protect vulnerable groups, while it is also calling for fiscal tightening (IMF, 2022). The latter is associated with austerity and will worsen vulnerabilities as the State withdraws from service provision and/or reduces expenditures to achieve fiscal tightening. Such macroprudential measures may not address the more fundamental causes of mass unemployment, informal employment and poverty that are linked to the structure and extractivist nature of Namibia's enclave economy (Kayenze and Lapeye, 2012). As is the case in many African countries, Namibia is moving towards greater informalisation of employment (Bonnet; Vanek & Chen, 2019). The country is faced the “paradox of plenty”. Despite, its vast natural resources and high volumes of primary export production, the country experiences poverty and unemployment. Primary export economies normally result in enclaves of wealth that attract foreign investment around these primary exports. The enclaves fail to integrate fully into the national economy with the requisite backward and forward linkages to boost manufacturing and employment (Acosta, 2013; Mhone 2006).

To cope with the challenges of under-and unemployment people are forced into various context- based livelihood strategies. About 61 percent of the world's workers are informally employed,

representing 2 billion people. In developing countries, this figure is even higher with around 90 percent of workers in informal employment (ILO, 2018). Informality is a characteristic of underdevelopment that traps people in low-income and precarious jobs without legal and social protections (Loayza, 2009). Informal workers often lack and employment benefits.

Informality, which includes informal employment in the formal sector of the economy, informal sector enterprises and employment in the informal sector, remains under-researched. A total of 57.7% of Namibian workers work in informal employment (men 54.1% and women 61.2%). In 2018, less than 40% of paid employees in Namibia received paid annual leave or paid sick leave. Almost a third of all employed persons were in vulnerable employment and overall unemployment stood at 33.4% with around 50% amongst the youth (Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), 2018).
Namibia's labour market still is segmented along racial and gender lines. Women hold less than 50% of permanent jobs. Most hold casual, temporary and seasonal jobs (NSA, 2018). Informality of employment is not confined to the “informal economy” but also affects workers in the formal economy as the casualisation of work through outsourcing and subcontracting become more prevalent. COVID 19-related lockdowns severely affected the informal workers who were more exposed to income and job losses. People trapped in informality also had less access to public health and sanitation serves needed to limit the spread of the pandemic (Ohnsorge, Franziska, and Shu Yu, 2022). The activities of informal traders are often stigmatised and criminalised. They are often subjected to police harassment; abuses of power; arbitrary fines; confiscation of goods; degrading treatment; as well as institutional and bureaucratic barriers (Friedrich- Ebert- Stiftung, 2021).

Women's unpaid social reproductive labour (domestic labour/care work) is not acknowledged as labour. This socially necessary labour that increased during COVID 19 is not enumerated or remunerated because of the way labour is defined. Feminists have called for this work to be acknowledged through an expanded notion of work (Mezzadri, Newman & Stevano, 2021) .
To explore the multiple facets of livelihoods and work, the Namibian Journal of Social Justice hereby invites scholarly articles, case studies, opinion pieces, photo essays, creative contributions and book reviews on the topic. They can cover aspects such as:

  1. Unemployment, under-employment and the social-structural crisis
  2. Informality and alternative livelihoods
  3. The right to work and livelihoods
  4. The informalisation of work: Outsourcing, Subcontracting and Labour hire
  5. Livelihoods in the informal economy
  6. Self-organisation in the informal economy
  7. Gender division of labour and the care economy
  8. Informalisation and worker's rights
  9. The political economy of the “enclave economy”
  10. The role of trade unions in a fragmented labour market
  11. The effects of technology on the world of work
  12. Climate change, livelihoods and employment

Submission dates for abstracts: 31 January 2023

Submission dates for full articles: 15 May 2023

Submission guidelines: All submission guidelines can be found on

Alternatively, contact the editor: [email protected]


Acosta, A. (2013). Extractivism and neoextractivism: Two sides of the same curse.

Bargallo, C. & Federici, S. (2011) Social Reproduction

Bonnet, F., Vanek, J., & Chen, M. (2019). Women and Men in the Informal Economy – A Statistical Brief. he%20Informal%20Economy%20-%20A%20Statistical%20Brief%20-%20for%20web.pdf

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (2021) Code of Conduct for the Informal Economy: Breaking New Ground. Windhoek. Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2022). World Economic Outlook: Countering the Cost-of-Living Crisis. outlook-october-2022.

International Labour Organisation 2018. World Employment and Social Outlook. Trends 2018. Geneva: ILO.

Kanyenze, G. and Lapeyre, F. (2012) Growth, employment and decent work in Namibia: A situation analysis.

Loayza, N. (2009). Globalization and Informality: Two Challenges of Development and Integration. In The Multiple Faces of Globalisation. Madrid. BBVA

Mezzadri, A.; Newman S. & Stevano, S. (2021) Feminist global political economies of work and social reproduction. Review of International Political Economy.

Mhone, G. (2007). Autocentric, sustainable human development. In Kanyenze, G, Kondo, T and Martens, J (eds) 2007. Alternatives to Neo-Liberalism in Southern Africa. The search for sustainable human development in Southern Africa. Harare: ANSA.

Namibia Statistics Agency 2018. The Namibian Labour Force Survey 2018 Report. Windhoek: NSA.

Ohnsorge, Franziska, and Shu Yu, eds. (2022). The Long Shadow of Informality: Challenges and Policies. Washington, DC. World Bank

United Nations (2022) Global economy: Outlook worsens as global recession looms – IMF.