Co-Production of Water and Sanitation Infrastructure in Zimbabwe

by Thomas Karakadzai

The provision of services in cities requires a hybrid of approaches from communities, local authorities, private sector and non-governmental organisations. Working in isolation for solutions to urban problems has become a daunting task, and has often led to much time wasted pointing fingers at one another.

Co-owned approaches and experiences across Zimbabwean cities (such as Harare, Bulawayo, Kadoma  and Masvingo to mention just a few), have  provided better solutions to the urban problems of housing. Through operationalising the Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) amongst stakeholders a handful of interventions have culminated in solving service delivery challenges in Mucheke and Victoria Ranch in Masvingo.

To date, water and sanitation interventions and hostel upgrading has improved the dilapidated situation in the old hostels of Mambo and Tanaiwa hostels (Mudhadhadha). A total  of 45 households at Mambo hostels, and 56 households at Tanaiwa hostels have improved water and sanitation units .

The production of these units was community-led throughout the process as community beneficiaries were involved during the design phase, procurement of construction materials and construction of the water and sanitation units.

The communities in these suburbs are not only recipients of the services but were actively involved before, during and after the implementation of the projects. Many of the community members were also employed as contract workers providing labour during the implementation of the project.

Throughout the project local authorities provided technical expertise and partners such as the Dialogue on Shelter Trust and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation have also been key in mobilising resources both human and financial through savings. This model of co-producing has been proved to work and results in the improvement of livelihoods and welfare within cities.

The co-production of the water and sanitation infrastructure  in Mucheke (the old hostels) has allowed the initiatives to rekindle and discuss the topic of secure tenure with Masvingo Municipality. The upgrading  at Tanaiwa and Mambo hostels have inspired the residents to visit Bulawayo to take a look at and learn about how they converted their council homes as water and sanitation are vital to take into account when converting council rental accommodation to homeownership.

Masvingo Municipality made a look-and-learn trip to Bulawayo, and as a result, Masvingo City adopted a resolution to convert Tanaiwa Hostels to homeownership, strengthening security of tenure

The relationship between Masvingo City Council and the residents of the Mucheke slum settlement was tense prior to the co-production of the water and sanitation facilities. However, the current jointly administered initiatives have strengthened ties with Masvingo Municipality as a result.

Communities from the slum settlements and representatives from the Masvingo Municipality alternately call meetings where workplans are discussed, settlement profiles are conducted jointly, and inter-city exchanges on slum upgrading experiences in other cities with other local authorities are taken part in. The social cohesiveness between the city and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) has enhanced as a result of this co-production.