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

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.

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.