Small Health Initiatives and Infrastructure Upgrading

Back To Projects

Focus Areas: Land & Tenure Security

The project funds allowed for the completion of a community resource centre in Crowborough, part of which is used as a community clinic. The Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation (ZIHOPFE) started a pilot community clinic in Crowborough, owned and managed by the community. The aim of the clinic is to offer affordable and accessible health services to both members and non-members of the Federation. The clinic opened on the 10th of December 2010. Both conventional and herbal medicine is dispensed at the clinic. This project sees the Federation realize its dream of having a community owned and managed health centre, catering for the needs of the urban poor. Numerous patients (both Federation and non-Federation members) mainly from Harare have been treated at the clinic and have been assisted with hospital fees and tests. The home-based care programme encourages further interaction with Local Authorities for the provision of an efficient service at community level.

Negotiations with local authorities for land to establish herbal gardens in Harare have also begun as a result of this project.  Building the resource centre has been a significant milestone for the Federation, especially in the saving it allows for meeting venues. The River of Life Church donated a second hand mobile clinic vehicle which will allow the Harare Federation to implement their plan for a mobile clinic services. The vehicle can also be used as an ambulance. 

Location: Crowborough, Harare, Zimbabwe


A community resource centre building, part of which was to be utilised as a clinic. The clinic is still functional with support from a State registered nurse who is also a Federation member. There are no doctor’s services at the moment because the doctor who was supporting the Federation is now employed full time elsewhere and so cannot make adequate time to support the Federation on the clinic initiative. The City of Harare planning department has advised the Federation on the availability of a clinic site in Crowborough and also on the possibility for the Federation to partner with the City around the establishment of a clinic at this site and make use of the Federation’s experience with the Crowborough initative. Another local doctor who is also supporting the Federation from his private Clinic has expressed willingness to technically support the Federation in terms of reflecting on the Crowborough Clinic initiative and finding possible options of scaling up.

Community capacity:

The fund is growing and has a current balance of US$44,000. Contributing members are able to access cash for treatment fees. At their annual forum in January 2015, the Harare Federation resolved to pursue the idea of using their Health fund to kick start the establishment a medical aid scheme for poor communities after doing a research around this idea.

Exchanges around health issues have also been strengthened through this project resulting in increased contact and interaction on health issues between Federation groups in different areas and regions resulting in the creation of platforms for cross pollination of ideas.


The project has helped to strengthen HIV/AIDS awareness and education initiatives in all the regions. The Health component is now taken as one of the key vetting criteria by the Federation. This pushes all members to participate in health programmes and activities thereby benefiting through the improvement of their health status. All Federation groups have to save for health, which is also another positive outcome as Federation members get to prioritise their healthcare. All Federation groups also have a health representative who is responsible for making sure that health issues are taken on board starting at group level. This component is also found at all the levels of the Health structure and recently the Federation introduced it at the National level where they now have a National Health structure that is responsible for strategising on health issues at a national level. The project has also helped strengthen all these initiatives. There has been a noticeable improvement in the health status of the Federation, which includes a reduction in HIV/AIDS prevalence. Herbal therapy is also another initiative that has been strengthened through this project resulting in the provision of an alternative to costly health medication for the Federation and other poor communities.

The project helped to trigger the training of the Federation and other poor communities on different health aspects and issues thereby improving their capacity to manage and deal with health challenges at the local level. This training has also resulted in the creation of linkages with other organisations.

With respect to the project's impact at a national level, the Kariba Federation in Mashonaland West launched its own community herbal clinic in September 2011 after learning from the Crowborough initiative. As of June 2014 a number of off-shoots had been established. These include: 

Harare Health Fund: The fund is growing. Contributing members are able to access cash for treatment fees. There are challenges however around issues of making sure that all contributing members are able to equitably access support from the fund. There is need for more technical skills around issues of assessing requests for financial support from the fund. There are suggestions to engage some health insurance companies to find out if they can assist the Federation on the issue of a health insurance. This option could help the Federation get around the issues of managing the health fund and ensuring equitable access by all contributing members.The Harare Federation has so far made a repayment of US$1,800.00 towards their UPFI loan of US$20,000.00. This was passed on to the Kariba Federation to help them kick start their community herbal clinic.

Replication of Health Initiative:There are some other federation areas that are replicating the Harare Health Initiative and have made progress on some activities. These areas are: 

(i) Gwanda: The Gwanda town Federation areas have started health savings with the aim of establishing a Network Health Fund. Currently the total health savings for all the areas is US$ 8,000.00 in total. A maximum of US$50.00 is given per member for treatment fees.

(ii) Kariba: Kariba has established an area health fund, which is accessible to all the contributing members from savings schemes around Kariba town. The fund has a total of US$6,950.00 of which US$5,750.00 has been used for assisting beneficiaries with treatment fees and US$1,200.00 is cash in the bank account.  

The Kariba Federation has started a community herbal clinic, which is serving both Federation and non-Federation members in the town. The clinic is manned by Federation members who have been trained in herbal medicine by various organisations such as River of Life in Harare, Eden Herbal Clinic as well as the Federation members who are managing the Crowborough Clinic. The Harare Federation managed to give Kariba US$1,800.00, which has been used to establish the Kariba clinic as part of its UPFI loan repayment. They used some of the money to renovate their resource centre so that they can use part of it as their herbal clinic. The rest of the money was used to purchase equipment for the clinic, which includes furniture and a fridge. The Kariba Federation has a thriving herbal garden from which they get herbs for the herbal medicine used to treat patients.


The Federation has given input to the ongoing review of the Public Health Act, pointing out how the Act might better address issues of public health, housing, water & sanitation amongst the urban poor. Their input emphasized the role played by poor communities and how they can be included as equal partners and not just passive beneficiaries of services. 

The Federation has been able to register its herbal medicine operations with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. The next step is obtaining an operating license for the mobile clinic from the City of Harare which should take place by mid July 2011, after completion of the refurbishment of the mobile clinic vehicle. The home based care programme is expected to encourage further interactions with local authority clinics for the provision of efficient service at community level. Negotiations with local authorities for land to establish herbal gardens in Harare have also begun as a result of this project.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$20,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The medical doctor who is working with the Federation was giving a subsidised service to the Federation and the community at large in the form of her medical expertise and training services. River of Life Church is also giving subsidised training in home-based care to the community and the Eden Village Clinic in Mhangura is assisting the Federation with the establishment and management of community herbal clinics. 

Patience Mudimu (+263) 4704 027 View Website
Project social media channels:

Project information updated: 03 November 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This project, which started in 2011, sees the Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation and Dialogue on Shelter alliance respond to the poor health services and general inaccessibility of these services by the poor. Affordability has been a key challenge for most Federation families such that the US$5 and US$10 being charged per consultation in the City Health clinics and the public hospitals respectively is out of the reach of many. This prompted the Federation to embark on the project. The River of Life Church has been providing on-going support to the Federation’s health initiative since 2007. 


A community resource centre, part of which will be utilised as a community owned and managed healthcare centre. 

Community capacity:

The community clinic’s activities are primarily funded by Federation savings. This includes medical bills, doctors’ fees and drugs. The expectation is that these savings will finance most of the clinic’s operational costs after the initial boost from capital funding. The Federation established the Regional Health Fund in February 2011 to sustain operation of the clinic after the completion of UPFI capital funding, to which member families can contribute US$1 a month. The contribution benefits parents and children aged 18 years and below, and; allows member families to access doctors and pay for hospital admission costs and laboratory and other medical tests. Non-Federation members are also welcome to contribute towards this Fund.

To date, a total of two thousand one hundred and two (2,102) people are contributing. Federation members are also saving as a group towards other health related activities including food and other supplies for the sick, transport costs, and minor health expenses at local level. The establishment of the community clinic project has resulted in a significant rise in health savings in general. There is a need to look at available options for putting a portion of the Health Fund savings in interest earning investment portfolios. Apart from the clinic activities, the completion of the community resource centre has also enabled the Federation to carry out most of their activities at subsidised expenses. Training and capacity building activities are another major activity being carried out in order to increase the project’s sustainability. Twenty (20) people have been trained in home-based care with the aim of creating linkages between the clinic’s operations and the larger community as a whole. Training is on-going with emphasis on care giving skills. Twelve nurses (12) are also being equipped with community nursing skills so that they are able to carry out most of the daily operations. Training given by the assisting medical doctor is also helping the community establish a skills set, aiding sustainability.


The project is local in nature but will have the potential to be scaled up to both the city and national scales through the roll out of a mobile clinics and the replication of the project in other parts of the country. 


The project will have an impact on the health of both Federation and non-Federation families throughout the country. The project will also enable the Federation, through its experience in setting up and running the Crowborough Clinic, to provide input on the on-going review of the Public Health Act to ensure that it is amended in a manner that makes it easier for the urban poor to access healthcare as well as sanitation services.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$20,000.00

Resources Leveraged:

The support of the broader community, namely the River of Life Church and the Eden Herbal Clinic will be leveraged to equip clinic staff with the necessary (additional) skills to run the facility efficiently and ensure that the entire community benefits. 

Costs recovered from community:

As noted above in the Community Capacity section, the community clinic’s activities are primarily funded by Federation savings.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2010). Press Statement: City Governments and Community Organisations to Join Forces in Improving Housing, Jobs and City Services for Urban Poor. [Online]. Available:
Chitekwe, B. & Mitlin, D. (2001). The Urban Poor Under Threat and in Struggle: Options for Urban Development in Zimbabwe, Environment & Urbanisation, 13(2): 85 - 102. [Online]. Available:
Dialogue on Shelter. (2014). Dialogue on Shelter Presentation: Health and Housing Workshop. [Online]. Available:
Dialogue on Shelter. (n.d.). Thematic Components. [Online]. Available:
Health Systems Trust. (n.d.). Southern Africa: Special Report on the Challenge of Providing Healthy Urban Environments. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dialogue on Shelter & Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation