Zimbabwe federation holds forum, Southern African hub meets

Zimbabwe forum 2011

By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter

The Zimbabwean Alliance hosted the second National Forum whose theme was ‘strengthening our process through savings’. The Forum which was held in the Midlands Province in Gweru was attended by Federation members from the seven regions namely Harare, Matebeleland South Matebeleland North, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Midlands.

SDI affiliates from South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Zambia graced the occasion and assisted greatly with the discussions. The Forum’s main agenda involved presentation of regional reports, reflection on the Federation rituals and drafting of regional work-plans.

The various regions reported how they had expanded the Federation coverage through opening savings schemes in new areas. In areas around Harare, new initiatives like Shamva, Bindura, Guruve and Marondera had now been mobilised whilst Matebeleland South now encorporated areas that include Plumtree, Kezi, Gwambe, Esigodini and Tsholotsho. The countrywide mobilisation of new areas had seen uMfelandawonye chapters grow from 32 areas in 2008 to the current 54 areas. The different regions also reported on the establishment of networks in their areas – a strategy that had seen participation of more members and strengthening of groups through breaking regions into smaller clusters. Networks were also reported to be facilitating the decentralisation of regional budgets.

A majority of savings schemes outlined how they had started the creative usage of savings through the mobilisation of money for buying groceries, pre-purchasing building materials and availing loans for business projects. Some of the products from the business ventures were also on display at the Forum. Harare region, for instance, showcased products from a project that was producing building materials and herbal medicines. The various regions also highlighted that the move to ensure the immediate usage of savings had been necessitated by the lack of trust in the banking sector.

The regional reports were then followed by specific presentations on the Federation rituals and components. Under the health component, it was reported that a pilot mobile clinic had been set up and been functional for close to three months. The clinic was currently stationed at the Crowborough Federation resource centre catering for the wider community as well.

The presentation on land noted that negotiations with both central and local government institutions had since yielded a total of around 5354 stands across the country. Infrastructure was however reported to be the biggest challenge hence there was a now a well-coordinated campaign for alternatives like boreholes and ecological sanitation units. Whilst on one hand lobbying was going on with officials to have buy-in, the Federation’s capacity to build the eco-san toilets was being developed through training sessions and exchange visits. Seven artisans training sessions have so far been conducted in the country’s six regions.

Enumerations as a powerful tool for negotiations had been expanded and sharpened to include mapping. The national enumeration team reported how they had started building and strengthening their teams in preparation for a number of surveys as well as the Harare Slum Upgrading Programme. Lastly, the Forum participants then grouped according to the regions in order to prepare regional work plans on the basis of the different areas’ priorities.

Southern African hub meeting

Consistent with current practice with other SDI hubs, the Southern Hub of Africa met in Zimbabwe around the latter’s National Forum. The five SDI affiliates in attendance appraised each other through country reports.

The Malawians provided feedback pertaining to their National Forum held in 2010 and thanked the other affiliates for their support. The Malawians also reported on a series of exchanges around water and sanitation that had taken place with Zimbabwe. The activities in Malawi had also started to have impact on policy as shown by the Malawian government’s Growth and Development Strategy which was modelled around the Federation concept.

The Zambians indicated that they were currently busy with a number of housing projects as well as building resource centres hence they had plans to strengthen their capacity through artisans training programmes. In addition, the Zambians had scheduled two Forums on Housing and Health in the first half of the year which drew a lot of interest from other affiliates.

In Swaziland, the need for Federation strengthening emerged as the main priority although it was mentioned that interaction with central and local government had significantly improved. A national forum held in December inn Swaziland had helped to boost the savings schemes.

In Harare, the Federation was implementing Slum Upgrading Project in partnership with the City of Harare and already an exchange had taken place with the Malawians around this project. The Zimbabweans noted that there were plans to scale up current health programmes.

In Namibia, a countrywide 5-year programme (Community Land Information Programme CLIP) documenting informal settlements, was reported to be underway. The Namibians also informed the meeting about the pending programmes aimed at supporting the emerging process in Angola.

The South Africans invited other affiliates to their National Forum earmarked for March 2011. In particular, FEDUP requested support on health issues from other affiliates during the Forum.

After the country reports the meeting then went on to discuss the UPFI call for proposals whose sum total for the entire hub was US$100000.00 with a repayment period of 3 years. The affiliates discussed the terms for accessing UPFI funds and the following country-level issues were noted as the basis for allocation;

  • Fully-fledged status
  • Existing city-wide processes
  • Existing revolving community-based loan fund
  • Existing country-wide network of federations
  • Existing partnerships with government.

On the project level, the following specific considerations were observed as critical for the disbursement of funds;

  • Impact – the extent to which a project will yield results and benefit members
  • Policy – the extent to which a project will influence central and local government policy
  • Leverage – the extent to which a project has scope to attract additional resources
  • Innovation – the extent to which the resources will go towards new alternative
  • Sustainability – the extent to which the resources will go beyond the project period

In the end, the affiliates agreed on the following allocations for the UPFI call;

Country Loan Amount Project Description
South Africa US$40000.00 Housing project in North West Province
Zambia US$20000.00 Completion of Federation resource centre in Lusaka
Malawi US$20000.00 Construction of Chinsapo Community Hall
Zimbabwe US$20000.00 Scaling up of the health initiative in Harare

*Namibia did not have a proposal during the time of meeting

The following exchange programmes for the hub were planned for the year 2011.

Visiting Countries Destination Country
Malawi and South Africa

Malawi and Zambia

South Africa and Zambia

South Africa and Namibia Swaziland
Zimbabwe and Malawi South Africa
Swaziland and Zambia Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Francistown
South Africa Gaborone

Gov’t reports on the federation: Kariba, Zimbabwe

By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat

The Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation, along with support NGO Dialogue on Shelter, met last month with Kariba council officials. This was not unusual in and of itself.

But often the documentation of such engagements falls to the federation and support NGO. So it was a welcome turn of events that the Kariba council itself submitted a report on last month’s meeting. The report lays out some of the possibilities and challenges facing many local councils working with the ZHPF. The same could, in fact, also be said for similar kinds of partnerships of slum dweller federations and local governments in other countries.

The full report, signed by Kariba’s director of housing, is as follows:

Homeless People’s Federation landed in Kariba in April 2001 when they were allocated  stand number 2561 Batonga to construct a model house. This allocation was actually a test case meant to gauge the effectiveness of the Federation and its capacity to deliver houses. In 2002 the model house was completed. The Federation managed to construct the required model house within the stipulated time. This proved a point to the Municipality and built confidence in the corporate body.

In March 2004 they were offered 136 stands. These were unserviced but surveyed. The Federation paid for the Engineering designs specifically for the area they were allocated. The Federation members provided labour for the servicing of these stands and they were getting technical assistance from the Dialogue on Shelter and Housing People of Zimbabwe. They successfully completed the servicing of the allocated stands and now they are putting up super structures.

The Municipality further allocated them an additional 12 stands in the same area to cater for extra membership and these successfully serviced and they are now putting the structures.

Then in October 2007 we offered them 52 stands in Batonga 2 and they are currently servicing the stands. In August 2006 they came to council with a request to construct temporary structures whilst developing their permanent houses. Council acceded to this request on the condition that as soon as the developer has completed or partially completed the main house, the temporary structure is demolished. We urge the leadership of the federation to observe this condition.

As council we are very glad that we have found reliable partners in Housing development. The Homeless People’s federation, Dialogue on Shelter and Housing people of Zimbabwe have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they are a reliable vehicle for providing housing/shelter to the poor, not only in Zimbabwe but beyond borders and all local authorities are proud of their work. The hopeless in terms of acquiring shelter have been converted to the hopeful actually reinforcing the concept that “A nation should be a beacon of hope”. The poor widows, orphans ,vulnerable and fully complemented families have been empowered through the provision of their own shelter. As Council we are proud of that.

The Homeless People’s Federation is also into herbal medicines, a venture which actually assist the vulnerable and less privileged members of society in that they cut on medical care. On top of that some of their herbs have proved to be more than modern medicines we get from the shelves of our pharmacies.


  • Five stands in Batonga are affected by the ZESA power lines and the Council and the Homeless People’s Federation are working together and to rectify this as US6,000.00 is needed by ZESA to divert the power line.
  • The terrain, the area the Federation is servicing has got an unfriendly terrain. It is rugged and rocky. Council does not have adequate equipment to assist the members. Currently our backhoe, back actor is down, it need to be repaired.
  • Council does not have dozer to assist in the opening of roads. What we have is a grader.

Zimbabwe fed builds on housing convention gains


By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat

The Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation put on a real show at October’s National Housing Convention in Victoria Falls with an eye-catching double-storey housing model, and song and dance inside the conference room. But big news was happening behind the scenes.

During last month’s SDI Council meeting, I caught up with Patience Mudimu, a project coordinator at Dialogue on Shelter, an NGO supporting the activities of the ZHPF. She told me that the Federation and Dialogue held a number of meetings with local government authorities during the convention. “For possibly the first time, we were getting directors to queue up to have appointments with us,” she said.

There have been follow-up engagements with authorities from five different cities — Harare, Masvingo, Chiredzi, Mutare, and Bindura. The plans under discussion in all of these places reveal a lot of the challenges and possibilities of local administration and urban housing in Zimbabwe.

In Harare, Dialogue on Shelter is talking with Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda about a partnership between the ZHPF and local government to renovate hostels in four settlements. Though town planners are often responsible for much of the implementation process of policy, mayoral will is key, Mudimu told me, to give political clout to a project like this.

In Masvingo, the Federation is facilitating exchanges of local ministers between different cities. As part of the exchange program that they agreed to at the housing convention in October, Mayor Femias Chakabuda wants to bring Federation members in Masvingo to visit the Federation-built settlement in Victoria Falls. According to Mudimu, Chakabuda was particularly impressed by his visit to the settlement.

The Chiredzi local authorities invited Dialogue on Shelter and the Federation to give a presentation to the full town council. They gave this presentation in early November about the difficulties that homeless people have in obtaining land.

The authorities in Mutare had given land to the Federation to build boreholes, a project being funded by SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International (UPFI). As part of the negotiations at the housing convention, the Mutare authorities gave a verbal go-ahead, but there is still no written agreement on the issue.

Finally, Bindura authorities have offered space to the Federation to build a community resource center.

As Mudimu noted to me, while it can be tough to achieve much publicly at these big housing conventions, the public show can serve as a good backdrop for successful negotiations and partnerships behind-the-scenes.