Harare Citywide Slum Upgrading

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Focus Areas: Water & Sanitation | Housing

This project, which started in 2011, involves the creation of an inclusive platform for the planning and execution of slum upgrading. The project covers slum settlements in Harare including Epworth, which is the entry point for the project and the largest slum settlement in Zimbabwe, and Dzivaresekwa Extension. Epworth is the first settlement to use new spatial technology to plan for informal settlement upgrading. It is also the first such programme to include real and meaningful participation by residents in articulating their own development priorities and having a significant input in the design of settlement upgrading interventions. The project will guarantee security of tenure for over ten thousand (10,000) families in the City of Harare and the process is underway. The City of Harare is the first Local Authority in Zimbabwe to develop a slum upgrading strategy. 

Both central and local governments have been involved in  the project, which is being implemented at a citywide level. The relations with both central and local government are deepening and expanding as officials have been exposed to slum upgrading initiatives in other SDI countries in the region. Interaction with central government has been on developing a slum upgrading protocol for Zimbabwe, training government officials on the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in slum upgrading, developing a pro-poor sanitation policy for the urban poor, and inclusion of housing issues in the constitution of Zimbabwe.  The Epworth Local Board was the first Local Authority in Zimbabwe to make a resolution to upgrade informal settlements. The City of Harare followed suit through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Homeless Peoples' Federation. A three-tier platform has been created, namely the city level platform (the Federation, City and Dialogue on Shelter Trust); the cities forum and the national platform (Dialogue on Shelter Trust, the Federation, the Ministry of Local Government, UN – Habitat, and City of Harare) which is the steering committee for national policy formulation. A slum upgrading policy is in the process of being drafted. This functional partnership is looking at strategies for settlement upgrading and alternatives to forced evictions. The project aims to have wider community benefit including non-Federation members. In some settlements Federations are playing a leading role, others settlements have joint networks of Federation and non-Federation members taking the lead; whereas, in others the non-Federation voice is dominant.


Location: Epworth and Dzivaresekwa Extension , Harare, Zimbabwe


The key activity of this project is the implementation of the Harare Slum Upgrading Strategy (HSUS). At least sixty-seven (67) slum settlements are part of the project and at least sixty-one (61) of these have been profiled. To date, one thousand three hundred and ninety-nine (1,399) houses and three hundred and seventy-two (372) toilets have been constructed. Boreholes have also been provided in the necessary areas. Physical outputs in the project's work in Dzivaresekwa Extension include four hundred and eighty (480) direct beneficiary families. This project is discussed further below. 

Dzivarasekwa Extension ImprovementsThe Harare team has implemented a housing and infrastructure pilot project in Dzivarasekwa Extension. This project is underpinned by the key principles of densification, incrementalism and affordability among many other pro-poor considerations. As a result of the pilot, the three parties have been able to deliver infrastructure services (water, sewer and roads) to four hundred and eighty (480) families through a community-led model. Alternative infrastructure facilities were also installed during the reporting period in the form of twenty-three (23) ecological toilets and two (2) boreholes. Solar systems were also installed in Dzivarasekwa Extension and these are powering lights for the community centre, borehole and street lamps. Eight (8) low-cost pilot houses have been constructed under the project and these have now paved way for the rest of the community members to begin to construct their own. A participatory design process, for example, saw the co-production of the architectural plans and the latter have now been co-opted into the city’s stock of proto-type plans to be used by the wider urban poor.

Identification of communities for Urban Studios: The Harare team selected six (6) slum communities in which urban studios could take place. These are as follows; Epworth, Glen Norah - Mukuvisi, Gunhill, Kuwadzana - Home Industries, New Park and Chikomo. These six (6) slums are part of the sixty-two (62) slums that were profiled in the past two years. The vision is to start a process that will lead to the creation of settlement development plans. Besides selecting the six (6) slum settlements, the Harare team also carried out the initial sensitization around the informal urban planning studios and brought on board partners from City of Harare and the University of Zimbabwe’s Rural and Urban Planning Department.  

Documentation: This involved capturing video footage of work that is happening around the project that will be edited into a fifteen (15) minute documentary. The Harare team also published the second edition of the Harare Slum Profile Report. The latter is being used as a tool for advocacy within and outside the city. More significantly, the documentation of the slums through a published report that is owned by the City of Harare also serves as formal recognition of the slum settlements.

Community capacity:

The community participated in this project through the savings groups. They also undertook the task of profiiling their respective communities. The communities participation in the upgrading process continues. For example, in Dzivarasekwa Extension solid waste management interventions saw the community continuing with waste collection, sorting and recycling activities. 

The learning, monitoring and evaluation (LME) activity focuses on ensuring that the Harare parties develop and implement a systematic process for capturing lessons from the project. A series of exchange visits were thus conducted and these focused on creating common platforms for learning. Local Authorities that have been identified as learning partners are Masvingo, Kadoma, Epworth, Chinhoyi, Bulawayo and Kariba. During the reporting period, exposure visits were conducted with Masvingo, Kadoma and Chinhoyi. Exposure visits were also conducted involving tertiary institutions and these included the Chinhoyi University of Technology and the University of Zimbabwe targeting Environmental Engineering and Civil Engineering students respectively. The visits focused, largely, on water and sanitation innovations in Dzivarasekwa Extension in the form of ecological sanitation (ecosan) toilets. The Harare City Council also conducted a mid-term review of the Harare Slum Upgrading Project (HSUP), which was facilitated by external evaluators and an evaluation report was produced.


The project is a city-wide project that has been implemented in sixty-seven settlements thus far. At least sixty-one of these settlements, which are all in Harare, have been profiled. 


The community of Dzivarasekwa Extension and City of Harare have a established a routine whereby they collect non-recyclable waste once a fortnight. The Federation managed to engage neighbouring communities on waste management and due to the need to address protocol issues a meeting was held with local councillor. The neighbouring community have requested an enumeration as the first process to enable them to inform the waste management interventions. An enumeration of five hundred and twenty-one (521) households was conducted and its main thrust was to provide the requisite baseline information for the Harare Slum Upgrading Finance Facility in terms of assessing the readiness of the pilot community.

Implementation of Harare Slum Upgrading Strategy - the rationale for this activity is centered on ensuring that the documents produced under the project, for example, the Slum Upgrading Strategy and the Regulatory Review are translated into practice. The HSUP parties therefore undertook preparatory work for upgrading in the form of informal planning studios targeting Gunhill informal settlement. The latter is now earmarked for slum upgrading thereby highlighting how the values underlying the Slum Upgrading Strategy have already started permeating into Council practice. Previously, for instance, Gunhill informal settlement had only known evictions hence this exercise of jointly planning the upgrading process for the settlement reinforces how City of Harare has begun adopting and implementing the tenets and spirit of the slum upgrading. As a result of these processes, the 122 families living in Gunhill informal settlement now have a more secure future with a strong possibility for upgrading through relocation.

Overall, the relationship between the three parties - the Federation, Central Government and Local Government - was deepened. The MoU was converted into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and a trust comprising the Zimbabwean Alliance and City of Harare was established. Operationalization of Harare Slum Upgrading Finance Facility (HSUFF), a first in Zimbabwe, has potential to impact other cities who are interested in establishing city upgrading funds.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$100,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The City of Harare has provided free technical support and project management as well as equipment such as earth moving and construction vehicles. The University of Zimbabwe and Harare Polytechnic have also started working in informal settlements, producing supporting settlement level planning as well as technical training for communities in technical areas such as housing construction.

Patience Mudimu patiencemudimu@gmail.com (+263) 4704 027 View Website

Project information updated: 03 November 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This project, which started in 2011, sees the Zimbabwe Alliance, comprised of the Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation (ZIHOPFE) and Dialogue on Shelter respond to the need to improve slum conditions. As recently as 2005 authorities were carrying out wide scale evictions of informal settlements across the country. Public authorities over the years have demolished slum communities en masse without an alternative as they were not obliged to provide any. Currently the country does not have a policy to upgrade slum settlements. The default policy position is based on removal of slums to marginal resettlement sites. Planning instruments used by urban local authorities such as Master Plans, Local Development Plans, and Town Planning schemes are based on the assumption that cities are developed through a succession of expansion projects on greenfields land. Slums are not recognized as an asset so they were not included in policy. Several statutes including the Public Health Act (Act No. 19 of 1924), the Regional Town and Planning Act [Chapte 29:12] regard slums as a nuisance that should be demolished. The Acts outline the procedures that should be undertaken to ensure that slums are demolished in a legal way. The UPFI’s support of projects in Epworth and Dzivaresekwa has effectively demonstrated upgrading as an alternative to the state’s default policy position. Before this project many informal areas were not mapped and did not appear on the city plans. With the exception of Epworth, all these settlements were established or re-established after the large scale evictions of 2005. In some settlements Federation groups existed before the project and in others groups were started during the project. These settlements were illegal and not recognized by Government before the commencement of the project. 


The project was undertaken in a bid to realise the Harare Slum Upgrading Strategy (HSUS). To accomplish this, the following tasks were to be undertaken:

• Profile & enumerate informal settlements in and around the City of Harare: The parties agreed to profile slum settlements in the city as the first step towards recognition of the challenge of slums and establishing the basis for upgrading activities. The parties agreed on a definition of slums that covered fully-fledged informal settlements as well as overcrowded settlements with dilapidated infrastructure. The slum profiles captured the socio-economic and spatial information regarding these slums and the development priorities moving forward. To date, the HSUP has profiled and mapped 62 slum settlements and this exercise is now culminating into settlement-specific development plans.
• Improvement of Dzivarasekwa Extension.
• Identification of communities for Urban Studios.
• Documentation of the project. 


The project was to be initiated in slum settlements throughout the city of Harare. 


The impact of the project, it was hoped, would be:

• the cementing of relationships between the Federation, communities as well as the different tiers of Government;

• the improvement of the lives of slum dwellers through the provision of basic services (and infrastructure), and;

• the establishment of pro-poor policies and strategies, namely slum upgrading policies and strategies, that recognise informal settlements and promote upgrading of these settlements.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$100,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The improved relations between the Federation and the Local Authorities established in the project would be leveraged to increase the Federation's influence in the policy sphere. Furthermore, documentation produced under the project would be leveraged to gain recognition of informal settlements as well as their occupants. 

Costs recovered from community:

The project is designed to allow for some capital investments to be recovered from beneficiaries. Loans have been given to Federation groups to augment their savings. Loans are also given to non-Federation groups under the same terms and conditions as for Federation members. A number of capital investments are not expected to be recovered. These include investments for some communal facilities such as, for example, water and sanitation facilites that had been given as a grant to communities by the City.

Loans being recovered are revolved to finance other projects in Harare and elsewhere (e.g. disaster mitigation loans, income generating projects, and housing and infrastructure projects). Thirty (30) new Federation groups have formed through the course of the project showing support and thus sustainability for such initiatives. The City of Harare and Dialogue on Shelter are in the final stages of negotiating terms for a city-wide fund. Government involvement through the establishment of the fund means there is collective political and financial responsibility for the project. The Federation, SDI, and the City will all contribute to the fund, which will also allow other investors (e.g. donors) to contribute. 

Chifera, I. (2015). Gates Foundation Wraps up Harare Low Cost Housing Project, VOA Zimbabwe. [Online]. Available: http://www.voazimbabwe.com/content/bill-and-melinda-gates-foundation-houses-dzivarasekwa-harare/2728994.html.
Dialogue on Shelter, Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation & City of Harare. (2014). Harare Slum Profiles Report. [Online]. Available: http://www.environmentandurbanization.org/harare-slum-profiles-report
Muchadenyika, D. (). Slum Upgrading and Inclusive Municipal Governance in Harare, Zimbabwe: New Perspective for the Urban Poor. [Online]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/12134210/Slum_Upgrading_and_Inclusive_Municipal_Governance_in_Harare_Zimbabawe_New_Perspective_for_the_urban_poor.
New Zimbabwe.com. (2015). Zimbabwe: Harare in Massive Slum Clearance Project, New Zimbabwe.com. [Online]. Available: http://allafrica.com/stories/201504211589.html

Zimbabwe Homeles People's Federation & Dialogue on Shelter. (n.d.). Harare Slum Upgrading entes Third Year with Dzivarasekwa Extension Enumeration. [Online]. Available: http://dialogueonshelter.co.zw/news/15-harare-slum-upgrading-enters-third-year-with-dzivarasekwa-extension-enumeration.html

Funding Information



Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dialogue on Shelter & Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation

The Rockefeller Foundation