Street Vendors Initiative critically engages the issue of street vendors in Downtown, and aims at developing strategies and proposals for pilot areas that would address the needs and aspirations of the multiple users and stakeholders in Downtown streets and public space. Street Vendors Initiative proposes approaches to engage multiple constituencies, including: shop owners, residents, developers, drivers, women’s right groups as well as traffic and municipal authorities, heritage protection agencies, and street vendors themselves. These meetings help to mediate the often-conflicting interests and priorities of such diverse groups, and potentially negotiate the contested public space.
Since October 2011, CLUSTER has been documenting the condition and process of street vendors’ use of streets and sidewalks in Downtown Cairo, including their typology, uses, range of merchandise, boundaries and tools of demarcation. In addition, CLUSTER has been documenting the relationship between the vendors and shop fronts, on the one hand, and street and parking lanes, on the other. In this context, the team has been monitoring the multiple attempts by the local municipality to remove and relocate street vendors, documenting recurring confrontations, followed by a return to business as usual. CLUSTER has hosted a number of meetings with street vendors and related stakeholders, experimenting with physical models and other tools to spatially engage alternative scenarios that would mediate the competing interests of the multiple stakeholders in Downtown.