Harare Slum Dwellers Lead their Development

by James Tayler

By George Masimba, People’s Dialogue on Shelter, Zimbabwe

The alliance of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter in collaboration with the Epworth Local Board, Epworth community members, Ward 7 Development Committee, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and Practical Action is currently undertaking an enumeration exercise in Epworth. The enumeration has also drawn 6 students from University of Zimbabwe’s departments of Rural and Urban Planning, Sociology and Surveying and Geo-Informatics who are supporting around data collection, collation and mapping issues. The enumeration exercise follows the profiling exercise that was conducted in May 2009. Whilst the profiling exercise assessed Epworth’s developmental issues from a broad settlement perspective, the enumeration now seeks to gather detailed information at the household level. The intention of the whole exercise is to create information that can be used by various stakeholders as a developmental tool.

The first phase of the enumeration process commenced with Ward 7 where data collection has since been completed. A total of 6252 households were interviewed during the enumeration exercise which was also graced by SDI (Slum Dwellers International) partners from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Namibian who have conducted similar processes in their own countries. A total of 120 enumerators participated in the data collection exercise and these were drawn from the Federation, Dialogue on Shelter, Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, Epworth community members, Ward 7 development committee and SDI countries.

Epworth Ward 7 Background

Epworth’s Ward 7 falls under ‘magada’ which is a name for areas that were informally occupied by the residents. Since the ward is predominantly informal, there are no basic services such as reticulated water and sewer network. More significantly, the residents do not have security of tenure. It is against this backdrop that the Epworth chapter of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation chose to target this settlement. That is, the enumeration is therefore hoped to kick-start and facilitate upgrading and redevelopment activities in the ward through granting of secure tenure and provision of basic services.  The enumeration will thus enable the residents to define and direct this upgrading process through the information that has been collected from every household.

Currently, ward 7 residents under the auspices of the local development committee have managed to produce a strategic plan for their area as well as a commissioning a surveyor to do a topographical survey. This work needs to be linked with the mapping exercise that is part of the wider enumeration process. Thus, in addition to the socio-economic data, the enumeration will also involve generating satellite images depicting the current spatial elements in terms of existing plot boundaries and structures (houses). The rationale behind this is to ensure that the layout plan for the area will be informed to the extent possible by the existing realities on the ground. At the most successful, this approach will minimise displacements.

Socio-economic data – the key issues

The socio-economic data was collected from each household in ward 7 since the envisaged upgrading will be inclusive of all the current residents. In particular, the survey tool probed household information and the views of the residents regarding upgrading. For instance, the residents were asked to prioritise services requirements as well as stands they were likely to afford bearing in mind that most of the existing plots were very big. Furthermore, the possibilities of giving up some of their land was also raised during the community meetings and survey in order to accommodate services such as roads.

Mapping data – the key issues

The mapping exercise which should be started once the satellite images have been secured will be interested in identifying current plot boundaries and structures. However, apart from just identifying these elements, the mapping exercise will also help to show sizes of existing plots and the number of households on the plot. This information will help to explore the possibilities of accommodating a number of households on a plot depending on its size. At the end, each questionnaire will be able to be linked to each structure on the map and this will greatly inform the planning process. All this will be made possible through digitizing the images using GIS (geographic information systems) tools.

Current activities

Following the data collection exercise, collation of information has since started. A dual approach is being used in the data capturing whereby one team is keying in the information manually while the other team is entering the data electronically on a computer database. This strategy has multiple benefits. It has not only provided greater scope for wider participation for the community members but also allows for cross-checking the results.