The role of the informal sector in contributing to the urban landscape in Yogyakarta – Indonesia concerning on the urban heat island issue

ABSTRACT:  In developing countries including Indonesia, the informal sector is rapidly a growing factor in the age of contemporary urbanization. It is an urgent need to encourage more researches on the crucial segment of the urban informal sector. Many scholars discuss informal sector focusing on characteristics, magnitude, social-economy approaches, impact on traffic-environment, spatial arrangement and building design. However, researches on the role of the informal sector in shaping the urban landscapes are very limited to be conducted. This paper examines the role of informal sectors in influencing the quality of urban landscapes in integrating the economy infrastructure within the built environment in urban areas. Unfortunately, many urban governments do not realize that the growth of informal sector in urban areas is increasing for now and the future. This trend constitutes a crucial factor to determine public spaces are look like, particularly the existence of street vendors and small business where they easily use and occupy public spaces, such as side walk or pedestrian way, shopping arcade, street right of way, town square for trading their commodities, such as cooked food or other merchandise. Most street trading does not care that many people have some complaints for what they are doing is generating some impacts on urban landscape performance, including traffic jam, crowded pedestrian way or arcade, messy, and untidy urban spaces. This is the way how informal sectors currently changes land uses and urban landscapes. On one hand, the existence of the informal sector in urban area could contribute in reducing employment problems. On the other hand the way how the informal sector uses public spaces, particularly street vendors, is disturbing public activities in urban areas. Street vendors should consider other urban community activities that similarly need convenient for working and living in urban areas. Therefore, the role of the informal sector in urban landscape is crucial to contribute and develop the quality of public spaces and the urban landscape. The research suggests that the most informal sector in urban areas, particularly street vendors, do not promote a better quality of the urban landscape, particularly the aspect of natural environment such as grass and trees. The existence of informal trading does not encourage the number of vegetation in public spaces increased. The limitation of vegetation will increase the temperature of the urban areas as an impact of “urban heat island.” The vegetation is crucial to reduces negative effect of UHI. The more informal sector the more vegetation or green garden in urban areas, and this statement are important to balance the natural and man made environment as the basic of the healthy urban landscape. The research also found that the limited capacity of local government to provide alternative sites or spaces for the urban informal sector, particularly street vendors. As a result, the unstructured informal sector in urban spaces has created unexpected quality of urban landscape. The other finding is that the existence of the informal trading in public spaces does not have any role to lessen and mitigate the negative effect of the Urban Heat Island phenomenon. In fact, the informal sector brings more the man made artifact instead of the natural environment. Recommendations in arranging the urban informal sector could be focused on collaborative formal-informal sector interplay between the landscape, building constructions and infrastructure in the context of urban management. To promote the role of the informal sector in shaping the urban landscape is very limited effort, because the informal sector community has a limited liability. Therefore, the collaboration between the government, NGO, university experts, community of the informal sector, and community leaders to manage the existence of the informal sector operating in urban areas is crucial to develop a better quality of the urban landscape.

Key Words: Informal sector, role, urban landscape, public space, UHI

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