HARARE – A community initiated project spearheaded by women is set to build 480 housing units in Dzivaresekwa Extension under a slum upgrading project.
The project which is a partnership between the Harare City Council (HCC) and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation is being funded under a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The land where construction is to take place was provided by government in 2011 while the HCC is in charge of servicing the area and providing equipment such as graders, excavators and front-end loaders.
National coordinator of the federation, Sekai Chiremba said they had completed one demonstration house with five rooms while others are under construction.
“16 demo houses are already under occupation with over 150 other houses at different stages of construction,” Chiremba said.
She said under the scheme, there will be a waste management project which will see them recycling and selling bottles, plastic materials and paper to generate money.
Chiremba said solar energy will be used to power the houses, with an ecological sanitation (ecosan) toilet also having been adopted.
She explained that the ecosan pilot toilet is a waterless device that works well in an area like Dzivaresekwa which experiences water problems.
“The ecosan toilet is very hygienic. Excreta collected from the toilet can be used as fertiliser and manure for the garden. The smell is taken away by the ash, lime and sawdust that residents use to speed up the decomposition process."
“It is a very practical mode of toilet for our beneficiaries. If there is no water here, we do not feel it as much as people who have conventional water reliant toilets,” Chiremba said.
She also highlighted that labour for the houses was being provided by the beneficiaries with the Harare Polytechnic College providing assistance to students who receive training in building.
HCC housing and community services deputy director James Chiyangwa said the housing development addresses the needs of the poor who cannot afford to build or buy their own homes.
Chiyangwa said the housing units cost between $4 000 and $8 000 depending on the size, with beneficiaries contributing a dollar monthly and council weighing in with $120 000.
“Dialogue on Shelter put in $25 000 while the Slum Dwellers International invested $50 000 in the revolving fund which would be loaned out to beneficiaries,” Chiyangwa said.
A community hall has already been built and it caters for sewing, cookery, baking and knitting projects as well as a library.
The slum development project comes ahead of council’s clean-up campaign that starts today in Mbare which will see the removal of illegal structures among other things.
Earlier, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said those who built their structures on land that was illegally acquired should remove them before the authorities demolish the structures.