Social Distancing strategies for weekly markets
A collaborative initiative as part of the Main Bhi Dilli campaign to support vendors ensure their customers' and their own safety from Covid19 in weekly markets
Delhi is unique for its weekly markets which are a part of its rural and cultural legacy continuing well into the contemporary city. They pop up in public places and streets which are multi-layered spaces that change through the day and the week. Delhi has 272 officially recognized weekly markets across its 17 zones which are set up on different days of the week.
In a Covid-19 world, there is a need for us to rethink public spaces, especially those associated with multiple informal livelihoods such as weekly markets. In 2020, weekly markets across India had to shut down due to lockdown restrictions during the first wave of Covid-19. As the unlockdown process gradually began in Delhi over July and August, the weekly markets were still shut down, hard hitting the livelihoods of thousands of street vendors. That is when a collaborative initiative made up of hawker unions, NGOs working on rights of street vendors and research & design organisations - SEWA, WIEGO, Janpahal, City Sabha, IIHS & Social Design Collaborative - came together as part of the civic campaign Main Bhi Dilli
The collective piloted simple and low-cost design strategies to help street vendors self-organise while following social distancing norms for the safety of their customers and themselves. Through trials at two weekly markets - Mahila Market and Dilshad Garden - effective strategies for demarcating spaces, creating effective layouts, spreading civic awareness on Covid-19 and improving the vending experience were tried and tested. These were then shared through Whatsapp forwards and posters.
The process also led to a collaboration with WIEGO in the development of manuals for street vendors to help provide guidelines on Covid responsive public health & safety, design strategies for social distancing in natural markets and information on rights of Indian street vendors. For more information, you can refer to our Open Source section here: https://www.socialdesigncollab.org/research
It also led to the generation of an open source map of the weekly markets of Delhi with the support of Janpahal: https://www.socialdesigncollab.org/post/weekly-markets-of-delhi