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Tough Life for the Street Vendors of Nasiriya
NNN: Urbanization, Unemployment, Low Benefits Push Iraqis into Petty Trading
06/03/2008 3:02 PM ET
Photo: NNN.

Nasiriya News Net (NNN) features a photo gallery and brief comments in Arabic, penned by its correspondent Alaa al-Tani, presenting the difficult situation of street vendors in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya.

NNN writes that the conditions faced by petty traders in Nasiriya stem from decades of economic difficulties in Iraq, and writes that these conditions may have worsened after 2003. Spreading unemployment in Dhi Qar province has caused many Iraqis to turn to vending in the streets, the local news agency writes.

Current policies encourage rural-to-urban migration, NNN suggests, driving more residents into Nasiriya, and causing the city's borders to expand outward.

The photos are accompanied by a few vignettes of Iraqi vendors. Presumably the vignettes refer to individual vendors pictured in NNN's report, but the agency does not explicitly match stories to photos:

Haja Shukra Kati' said that she has been working in the al-Nasiriya market in the city center for almost twelve years. Her daily income depends on the market activities. She added: "I went to the social services (agency) more than once in order to apply for monthly income, but in vain, although I am a widow and an old woman. That is why I work in this market even under the burning sun."

Meanwhile, Mr. Jabar Sharif, who sells vegetables and dates, and who spent almost 27 years in Sayid Sa'id market, spoke sorrowfully about his suffering. He feels that he has no future because he has no home for himself and for his family. His income from work in the market only enough to cover small portion of his daily needs. Although he is a retiree, his pension is also not sufficient for him and his family.

Basim Mahdi is a young man who supports his family with petty trading in the streets; he has been working for six years. He does not have his own store and so has to find places on the sidewalks to sell his goods in order to find a lawful source of income.

The expanding presence of street vendors throughout the city has disrupted the circulation of pedestrians and vehicles in the city, similar to what happens near the historic markets in the city center, NNN writes. NNN faults the local government for neither setting aside special sites for street vendors to work, nor appropriating benefits to support those who have turned to street trading, especially the elderly, holders of higher degrees, and students, among others.

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