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Third report of The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing on constitutionalisation of housing
Parliament of Zimbabwe
January 15, 2011

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Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Public works and National Housing resolved to get an appreciation of how sector stakeholders to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities supported the activities of communities in addressing housing issues. Furthermore, The Committee sought to understand the processes these communities used to secure land, develop infrastructure and houses as well as the challenges encountered in order to find the possible ways to overcome these challenges. It also resolved to establish the effectiveness and efficiency of the housing delivery options and support programmes available to the stakeholders. These resolutions were arrived at after the realization that solutions and recommendations on housing issues made at both the Victoria Falls Communiqué and the National Housing Convention were good but would not offer short-term and immediate solutions to the escalating housing crisis in our nation. Thus, the committee sought to discover, through visiting Epworth and Kariba Town Housing Projects supported by Zimbabwe Homeless Peoples’ Federation in partnership with Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless in Zimbabwe Trust, the strategies that they are employing. The committee then consolidated a position to this cross cutting- issue after consultations with sector stakeholders.

Objectives

The objectives of the visit were as follows:

  • To appreciate the interface between the Ministry, Local Authorities and the Housing Communities.
  • To understand the pro- poor development strategies used to address poverty and homelessness.
  • To develop a wealthy first- hand information from poor communities that defines their own settlement realities.
  • To recommend to the Executive specific actions to take in order to address, alleviate and rectify human settlement shortcomings.

Methodology

The Committee employed the following methods in order to achieve its goals:

  • Written submission from the National Housing Convention
  • Oral evidence from Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.
  • Oral briefing from sector stakeholders
  • Study visits on an incremental approach
  • Capacity Building Workshop with the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities in partnership with sector stakeholders.

Findings of the Committee

Summary of the Pro-poor Development Strategies used

Prior to conducting infrastructure and housing projects on a big scale, Zimbabwe Homeless Peoples’ Federation (ZHPF) undertakes pilot projects either through a house model or pilot sanitation blocks exhibitions.
These pilots and house models serve four purposes as follows:

  • To showcase their capabilities and practicalities of their solutions.
  • To demonstrate new innovations regarding urban challenges.
  • To provide a training platform and develop skills in readiness for the subsequent scaled-up projects or replication on a wider scale.
  • To make negotiations with local authorities and central government easier through witnessing these models.

Members of the Zimbabwe Homeless Peoples’ Federation create grassroots-centered pools of funds through housing savings schemes. These are augmented by external funds outsourced from funders channelled through Dialogue on Shelter. The financial resources mobilized are then used to negotiate with Local Authorities and government for securing affordable land. Members are allocated virgin land that they service after negotiating successfully.

The Federation then uses the model of incremental development whereby priority is given to the most important facilities and then gradually followed by the least basic ones. Incremental development is done on either infrastructure or housing development. Water and sewer are put first while roads come at a later stage on infrastructure development. At the beginning those basic services are used communally, and then families graduate into individualized connections when they can afford them.

In housing development, poor communities start both with a single or two-roomed unit with a temporary toilet and a stand – pipe and upgrade their structures until the whole house is complete.

During the incremental development process, a contractor could be engaged but the members would be involved actively from the design process to clearing and installation of sewer and water services in order to cut costs.

Observations - Epworth Local Board

It was submitted to the Committee with regret that about 1% of the houses in the area meet the housing standards. It was also pointed out that over 65% of the people in the town are informally settled. There are seven wards in Epworth of which wards 1 to 6 have numerous people in informal settlement while a few are formally settled in serviced stands. All ward seven people are informally settled in unserviced stands.

The Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation has over 40 000 people with 27chapters countrywide and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities of how their federation works. The members who are largely women provide cheap labour to build their own houses whilst they contract an expert builder to supervise their work. They also involve council inspectors who come at every stage of building and assess whether their structures are in line with the recommended standards.

Rentals are paid to the council by all landowners. Lodgers pay $25 to landlords while the landlords in turn pay $12 to the Local Board. Every landowner pays these rates irrespective of whether their stands are among those serviced by the board or not. The burden of servicing the wards has been thrusted on everybody’s shoulder.

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