How the Youth are Leading the Way in Tackling COVID-19
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In Hatcliffe extension, an informal settlement located in the northern part of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, a group of young people are leading the fight against the pandemic. They are building awareness, adapting their businesses to promote hygiene and encouraging fellow young people to contribute to community well-being. Artwell Nyirenda reports.
Hatcliffe extension was once a holding camp for urban migrants coming from different parts of Harare. Young people between the age of 15 and 30 constitute a higher percentage of the community’s population. Social and economic challenges are prevalent in the area, as the young often get involved in illegal activities for survival. The majority of Hatcliffe’s residents work in construction and informal trading, and few are formally employed.
Continuous expansion of the area has further exacerbated the challenges in accessing services, particularly water and sanitation. Communal boreholes are the only source of water, as tap water is not available. The community is struggling to meet the growing demand for water with a limited number of boreholes, many of which are dysfunctional, resulting in long queues for water collection.
News of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent safety protocols has added to the community’s existing fragilities. Waiting in a queue to collect water at communal boreholes is a daily reality for the residents of the Hatcliffe extension – increasing the risk of virus transmission. Until now, no positive cases have been found in the area. However, soon after hearing about COVID-19, everyone has been terrified to risk their lives while scrambling for scarce water. With the onset of the lockdown, naturally the demand for water has significantly increased and large crowds have gathered near the boreholes.
In Hatcliffe extension, the youth have always been at the forefront when it came to crisis management. Lonica Kenneth is a young female resident in the area, and a member of the Zimbabwe Young Peoples’ Federation (ZYPF), and its sub-group, Metro Focus Detergents Filming Group. ZYPF mobilises young people to influence positive change in their communities through documenting and sharing their lived experiences with relevant local authorities and other stakeholders.
The Metro Focus Detergents Filming Group is under the Safe and Inclusive Cities project, a youth-led project funded by Plan International, and consists of 20 members, including Lonica. Saving is encouraged within the group, and the members have been practising saving 10 bond notes (approximately USD 0.10) per week. They also make and sell liquid soaps, detergents, liquid gas and different arts and crafts. “The Safe and Inclusive Cities project has been an eye opener, as I have been made aware of opportunities to generate income, and participate in my community. I have realised I can make detergents that will help my family and community,” shares Lonica.
With her own savings, Lonica began a detergent business in June 2019, producing and distributing liquid soap within her community. However, the lockdown has caused her business to suffer and Lonica has had to redesign her production strategy. “My business has declined since the lockdown as I was unable to purchase raw materials for production. But I also realised that there is a growing demand for soaps and sanitisers during this pandemic, and I really wanted to help my community members during this crucial time” says Lonica.
Along with the other members, Lonica identified an opportunity to boost their businesses and support their community during the crisis. She approached Safe and Inclusive Cities to finance her business. “Thanks to their support, I was able to produce sufficient liquid soaps. They helped me to buy the raw materials required for production,” Lonica adds. With increased sales, she is now saving 20 bond notes per week. Because of the high levels of poverty in her community, she sold the products at a very low price so that people can afford them. “We are also distributing hand washing buckets, sanitisers and soaps to community members who are most impacted,” Lonica further points out.
In addition to their businesses, Lonica and her group has also been involved in raising awareness of COVID-19 preventative measures . “My group has managed to distribute hand washing soaps near community boreholes to promote hygiene. We also influenced community leaders to regularly disinfect and monitor the water points to ensure safety. These public spaces have improved. Chaos is avoided as people adhere to protocols set by the leadership” she argues. The community youth members have also asked relevant government ministries for further training so they can disseminate information more accurately.
Hatcliffe extension residents are fully cooperating in monitoring the water points and advocating for increased youth engagement. “First thing in the morning before anyone comes, I set out the drum, and the bucket with water and soap. Everyone must wash their hands before using the borehole handle. I also use sanitiser to disinfect the borehole handle, to ensure it is clean for everyone to use,” says Steven Nyamapfeka, a local leader in Hatcliffe.
“We are requesting outreach programmes on COVID-19 issues, as we don’t have enough information. If the virus spreads in this community, we will struggle to survive because we are not practising social distancing. More youth can be engaged to disseminate vital information,” shares Phillip Matamande, a member of the community. Residents have highlighted the need for masks and other protective gear, and the implementation of social distancing. They have also requested the Ministry of Health to increase the supply of chlorinated water.
Despite numerous hurdles, Lonica is hopeful that if the youth continue to work together, they will be able to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. “I am happy that I am able to play a role during this difficult time, and inspire young girls to lead initiatives for the betterment of our community. Together we can tackle the COVID-19 pandemic!” says Lonika.
As we are witnessing during COVID-19, young people from around the world are being innovative and leading initiatives within their communities to tackle the global crisis. Lonica, and others like her, are taking steps to support their communities through active participation. They have been influencing and communicating with leaders in understanding the dynamics of their communities. It is important that the youth realise their potential and the crucial roles they can play within their communities and lead the way for a better, brighter future.
About the interviewer
Artwell Nyirenda is a program officer at Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless People in Zimbabwe. He is working with young people in slum settlements in documenting the daily experiences in their communities for advocacy purposes.
About the interviewees
Lonica Kenneth lives in Hatcliffe extension and actively participates in community development platforms and programs. Through her work, she has inspired many young people who have joined her in transforming their communities.
Steven Nyamapfeka, is a local elderly man living in the Hatcliff extension for several years. He is also the Secretary of the Water Committee of Hatcliff.
Phillip Matamande is a local community leader and vice chairperson of the Water Committee of Hatcliffe.
Harare Slum Upgrading Project: Building the City from the Margins
In Situ Upgrading and Accessible Cities
Accessible and inclusive cities demand systems and policies that provide the poor with equal access to the social, economic, and service benefits of the formal city. Relocation to the periphery (or even worse eviction) severs social bonds, increases urban sprawl, and aggravates spatial inequalities. In situ upgrading of informal settlements presents an opportunity to build denser, more climate friendly and equitable cities. Citywide data collection processes through profiles and enumerations form the baseline to plan for in situ upgrading.
SDI therefore understands in situ upgrading as a key part of integrating the excluded and informal poor populations into the city as a whole, providing meaningful access to the social and economic benefits of living in a city. An array of interventions have been developed by SDI’s affiliates to prepare communities for in situ upgrading projects and subsequently implement infrastructure and housing upgrades.
In Harare, Zimbabwe the Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation (ZHPF) and their support NGO, Dialogue on Shelter, have supported the incremental upgrading of Dzivarasekwa (DZ) extension in partnership with the City of Harare. To date almost 500 families have built incremental housing and accessed water and sanitation services. Surrounding informal communities have become interested in taking up these upgrading interventions and the Zimbabwean Alliance has plans to significantly scale up sanitation provision in DZ extension. Other city governments and communities (e.g. in Chinhoyi, Bulawayo, Kariba, and Kadoma) have been exposed to the projects and steps are being taken to replicate upgrading interventions. The partnership and pilots in Harare have influenced government (locally and nationally) to accept dry sanitation options (ecosan) and adopt incremental upgrading practices in the new National Housing Policy.
In Kampala the Ugandan Alliance has focused on pilot sanitation and market upgrading projects. In terms of sanitation the Federation has piloted a number of different toilet prototypes in Kinawataka, Kisenyi, and Kalimali and other municipalities outside of Kampala. The pilot projects have enabled the Federation to: a) engage local government substantively on the issue of sanitation discussing policy, regulations, and management strategies; b) change perceptions on what “public toilets” are from dirty, smelly, single-purpose units to units than can serve multiple functions – such as community halls, income generating spaces etc. and c) test different technologies – from solar lighting, to rainwater harvesting, to low-cost building materials in an effort to find the most efficient combinations for sanitation facilities. The Federation is now seen as a critical actor in the sanitation sector and has increased its networking with other actors in the field for enhanced learning. As a result of these pilots, the Federation was able to leverage significant resources from Comic Relief to continue its sanitation work over the next five years.
The vast majority of Kampala’s slum dwellers work in the informal sector – many in the city’s informal markets. As the city plans to upgrade these markets from cramped, muddy, and poorly ventilated and serviced to something more formal (and taxable) there is a danger the existing vendors will be pushed out due to affordability concerns.
The Federation is working on a pilot market upgrade in Kinawataka, Nakawa which will combine low-cost stalls and more formal “lock ups” to cater to the different needs of city dwellers. Many market upgrading projects in the city have been stalled for years due to the wrangles of market vendors, local politicians, and landlords. The Federation is working with the Kampala Capital City Authority and the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development to try to demonstrate an alternative community-driven approach that may minimize these roadblocks to successful market upgrading.
In Cape Town, the South African Alliance has piloted three in situ upgrading projects. Over the last year Mshini Wam has been re-blocked, opening up space for safer and more dignified communities, as well as for infrastructure. Through the growing partnership with the City of Cape Town, water and sewerage pipes have been installed for the 250 households (497 people) in the settlement. Road surfacing is under discussion and during the next financial year electrification is planned. Nokwezi Klaas, a community leader from Mshini Wam, describes how re-blocking has changed the settlement: “Prior to re-blocking, the settlement was very dense. There were no passageways and when there were fires it was virtually impossible to get into the settlement. All the toilets were on the outskirts and there were only three water taps for over 200 households in the settlement.”
In Kukutown, a far smaller settlement, re-blocking has taken place and one-on-one services (water, sanitation, and electricity) have been installed. In Flamingo Crescent the re-blocking process is currently underway. In Stellenbosch a community managed WASH facility has been constructed in the Langrug informal settlement. Mshini Wam, Kukutown, and Flamingo Crescent have been used to show the possibilities for in situ upgrading in Cape Town and to catalyse other interventions at a city scale.
Their impact has been significant with the City of Cape Town drafting a re-blocking policy which could potentially be rolled out to other settlements across the city and aligned with municipal development plans, frameworks, and budget lines. During this period several consultation meetings have been held with the City to expedite and refine this process, addressing challenges and delays that have emerged.
In situ upgrading projects based on solid community data present a viable alternative to relocation and eviction. The variety of pilots and interventions trialed throughout the network highlight alternative visions for the city that include the poor, rather then relegate them to the periphery. The methods deployed represent a “tool-kit” which is contingent on local contexts especially the nature of relationships with local governments. What will become increasingly vital in the next year is how SDI federations are now in a position to scale up informal settlement upgrading interventions that form part of a coherent, affordable, and scalable citywide plan.
Check out SDI’s 2013 – 2014 Annual Report for more on in situ upgrading.
Densification of Harare’s Dzivarasekwa Extension
Dzivareasekwa Extension (DZ Ext.), located 18km west of Harare, Zimbabwe, was established by the government in 1993. Originally, over 2,000 families resided here. Today, DZ Ext. is home to 450 families living in semi-permanent structures built from materials including brick and mortar, wood, polythene and sheet metal. Communal toilets service sanitation needs, and water is provided from 3 boreholes located throughout the settlement. DZ Ext. is located on state-owned land allocated to the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation in 2007 by the Ministry of Local Government Rural and Urban Development.
In January 2012, an architecht from SDI, Greg Bachmayer, worked with the Zimbabwe Federation and support NGO Dialogue on Shelter (DOS) on a slum upgrading project in DZ Ext. This was an opportunity to develop new affordable housing models that could sustainably increase the density and the status-quo. The attached report provides insight into the techincal and social processes involved in such a project, as well as a vision of the road that lies ahead for the project’s completion.
Harare mayor opens Zimbabwe federation toilet block
pictured above: Harare mayor opens an “eco-san” toilet block built by the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation.
By George Masimba, Dialogue on Shelter
The Zimbabwean Alliance for the first time in its history exhibited at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show. The exhibition has provided a platform for the alliance to reach out and publicise the philosophy behind the uMfelandawonye (Federation) process. In the same vein, the show has also presented a glorious opportunity for the various Federation business projects to establish and penetrate uncharted markets. But most importantly, this inaugural exhibition was used to showcase the eco-san toilet popularly known as ‘sky-loo’ — a technology imported from Malawi. The SDI family graced the show and was represented by Malawi and Zambia from the southern Africa hub.
The ‘sky-loo’ technology came into being following an exchange visit to Malawi where the concept has been adopted and is being used on a very wide scale. After the trip to familiarise with the technology, which involved both Dialogue on Shelter and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation, a lot of excitement was generated within the alliance. Soon, negotiations started with Chinhoyi Municipality to allow eco-san units to be built so that families could move onto an allocated piece of land. The municipality agreed and more than 10 eco-san units have been built and over 50 families have so far moved onto their plots. Once the families occupied their plots, they began constructing their own houses. In this regard, the eco-san technology has opened a lot of opportunities for the urban poor.
It is with the possibility to scale up this approach in mind that the alliance resolved to showcase the technology at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show. An eco-san demonstration unit was therefore constructed at the Federation stand, and as a way of heightening the stakes and potential for buy-in the His Worship the Mayor of Harare was invited to officially open it. Among other stakeholders, the official opening ceremony was attended by Ministry of Housing officials, Harare City Council, UNHabitat, NGOs (ZINAHCO and ZERO) and the University of Zimbabwe. In his speech, the Mayor acknowledged the need to support such innovations around alternative sanitation strategies and expressed that the City was committed to embrace such ideas. The Malawian Federation also presented its solidarity speech which described how this model had helped a number of households to access affordable services and also to contain cholera outbreaks.
On the other hand, besides the eco-san technology, the exhibition has also created opportunities for the income generating projects from across the country’s 43 chapters of the Federation. Following the business skills training sessions that were earlier facilitated by Dialogue on Shelter and the subsequent loans that were disbursed to the various groups by the Gungano Fund, it was only appropriate that all these initiatives be complemented by a strong marketing drive. The exhibition therefore provided a perfect platform to do just that. As a result, Federation exhibitors displayed goods ranging from batik products to herbal medicines and building materials, all produced by uMfelandawonye members in various projects.
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.