The authorities in Khartoum locality are waging ‘a horrific campaign’ against tea and refreshment sellers in the Sudanese capital, according to Awadiya Mahmoud, founder and head of the Women’s Food and Tea Sellers’ Cooperative.
Mahmoud, who received the 2016 US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award, became a roadside tea seller when her family moved to Khartoum, and has since been involved in promoting economic opportunities for women working in the informal sector.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, she called on the Commissioner of Khartoum locality to stop these campaigns and immediately find effective solutions to them.
She says the campaigns have intensified in Green Square, the Nile Avenue, and Jackson Square. She appeals to the locality Commissioner to sit down with the Cooperative to reach a solution. She also appeals to the government authorities to find alternative careers for the tea sellers by training them in the fields of hospitality, horticulture and cooling so as to develop them.
There are more than 8,000 women engaged in selling tea and food, according to an inventory conducted two years ago.
“The women are in desperate need to practice their trade, especially in light of the deterioration of living conditions that forces them to sell tea in the markets and streets,” she told Radio Dabanga in a previous interview.
In July 2016, the state Commissioner issued a decision to withdraw the permits of vendors to sell tea along Nile Street, the boulevard that follows the Blue Nile, without the provision of alternatives for the women sellers to carry on their businesses close to shopping areas.
A study published last year by economic expert Dr Hassan Abdelati found that 88.6 per cent of the tea sellers in Khartoum are either displaced or migrants from rural areas.
In the study, Dr Abdelati asserts that the tea sellers’ sector is growing because of inflation, war, difficult economic conditions, illiteracy, and poor education standards among the women.