Towards the Formulation of a Participatory WASH Framework for Informal Settlements in Harare:  Hopley Case Study

by Thomas Karakadzai

The technical group composed of the City of Harare  Staff (from the Harare Water Department, Public Relations Office, District Officers and  Customer Care departments ), the Alliance of Dialogue on Shelter Trust and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation had a working session at Harare Water Offices on the 5th of September 2023. The meeting discussed the key parameters of implementing the proposed  Pro-Poor WASH  Policy in informal settlements in Harare once the Policy is adopted. The development of the Pro-poor WASH policy is being formulated at the same time the City of Harare has started the long-awaited regularisation of targeted informal settlements. The informal settlement of Hopley is one such settlement that will benefit from both the regularisation programme and the proposed Pro-Poor WASH Policy.

The Hopley informal settlement is situated in the southern east part  of Harare (Matamanda and Mphambukeli, 2022). The settlement  depends on off-grid infrastructure and is located about 15 kilometres from the city centre. Following Operation Murambatsvina, the settlement  was founded in 2005 (Tibaijuka 2005). Following the visit of a United Nations delegation that had come to assess the scope of the human rights abuse that the government had executed Operation Murambatsvina, the government of Zimbabwe sought to house the victims of that operation through the Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Tibaijuka 2005). The suburb’s population increased from an estimated 35,000 in 2015 to 60,000 in 2018 and approximately  to  80 000 in 2022 according to the Census preliminary report.

Like other informal settlements across Zimbabwe, Hopley has been marred with both water and sanitation challenges. The families in Hopley have been resorting to water from protected and unprotected wells which are in their backyards and some wells are even in the adjacent Granville Cemetery.  This has prompted responses from the city as well as NGOs to provide safe water from the Council grid, mini-grids from solar-powered boreholes and water kiosks with some families buying expensive drinking water from private companies. The Alliance of Dialogue on Shelter Trust and Zimbabwe Homeless People; ‘s Federation has partnered with the City of Harare, supported by VEI in a community participatory water provision project for 2000 families. These interventions have been positive and helpful however, they are inadequate to cater for everyone in Hopley – hence unsafe water is still being used by the majority of households. Additionally, the multiplicity of water providers has not been coordinated and different approaches are being used.  Some of the approaches have contradicted each other.  For instance, there are some sections which do not have safe water sources at all and others access free water from donor boreholes yet some sections are expected to buy water from Kiosks or pay for water connections and water charges to the city. Given this experience, the working group has noted the need to formulate a framework for the provision of safe, adequate and affordable water in informal settlements.  This framework is intended to augment the Pro-Poor Wash Policy as well as the informal settlements regularisation programme of the City. The framework is intended to guide the approaches to water provision in communities of the urban poor that are appropriate and affordable.   In addition to working with the Hopley Community and The City, the Alliance of Dialogue on Shelter Trust and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation have partnered with the Development Governance Institute ( DEGI), under the Inclusive Urban Infrastructure (IUI)project to support the Hopley community in developing a framework that guides WASH access in informal settlements using Hopley as a case study. The IUI research project is funded by the UK Research and Innovations’ Global Challenges Research Fund. The rich experiences of the Hopley community have provided crucial lessons for developing the framework,  exciting work lies ahead.