NGO Joint Initiative for Urban Zimbabwe

The NGO Joint Initiative for Urban Zimbabwe was a co-ordinated humanitarian response to address the short and medium-term needs of highly vulnerable communities in urban Zimbabwe through integrated development programmes.

In late 2005, spurred by political and economic developments, seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) decided to strategically combine their capacities and resources in order to address the acute needs of vulnerable groups in urban areas of Zimbabwe. These agencies collectively referred to as the Joint Initiative Group ("JIG"), are Africare, CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Oxfam GB, Practical Action Southern Africa, Save the Children UK and Mercy Corps.

The members of the JIG agreed to work together in a unique collaboration, utilising their respective organisational strengths and in-country networks to provide needed assistance in a variety of sectors including livelihood support, food security, social and child protection, HIV/AIDS, shelter and education.

Practical Action Southern Africa implemented the shelter provision activities in the areas of Mbare (Harare), St. Mary's (Chitungwiza) and Sakubva (Mutare) and brought in its skills and competencies in the areas of affordable and sustainable shelter provision.

The shelter intervention had three major objectives which were:

  • Increasing housing stock in all three sites
  • Reducing cost of housing construction
  • Increasing household income through shelter services

Targeting 500 beneficiaries, the project aimed to build new housing structures, expand existing houses and increase habitable space by 40,000 square metres in these areas.

Practical Action Southern Africa drew from its experiences and successes from past urban work programmes in Practical Action Southern Africa drew from its experiences and successes from past urban work programmes in Zimbabwe, including Integrated Urban Development Project, Building Materials and Shelter, and Improving Urban Livelihoods, which have developed strategies to help communities develop their own solutions to housing problems. The project adopted the approach of helping the poor communities to make the best use of their own labour and the use of locally produced and affordable building materials and construction techniques.

 Community based construction in progress.

Zimbabwe, including Integrated Urban Development Project, Building Materials and Shelter, and Improving Urban Livelihoods, which have developed strategies to help communities develop their own solutions to housing problems. The project adopted the approach of helping the poor communities to make the best use of their own labour and the use of locally produced and affordable building materials and construction techniques.

The project, initially modeled as a relief programme, focused not only on the building and extension of homes to improve the beneficiaries’ shelter conditions, but provided a catalyst for the further development of communities by creating opportunities for local skills development and income generation. In all the three project sites, the houses were constructed through a community-based approach where the beneficiary households formed groups of 25–44 households, referred to as Shelter Groups.

A total of 13 Shelter Groups were established. The Groups received training on construction skills. During the construction process, the beneficiaries were allocated skilled artisans who facilitated on-site building construction training. The onsite building construction training ensured that the 613 beneficiaries attained basic building skills. Within this approach, the vulnerable groups took the lead in the construction of their own homes. As a result, the project established and/or strengthened 51 enterprise groups involved in the production of building materials and trade skills training in all the three sites.

The groups were supported through the provision of capital equipment and business training that included marketing, basic bookkeeping and costing of products.
The tenure clarification awareness initiative resulted in 1413 (94% of target) residential house plans being approved and 1085 (217% to the target) beneficiaries with clarified tenure. Prior to the project’s implementation, the beneficiaries had a basic understanding of tenure issues. A tenure manual to assist beneficiaries groups was developed with inputs from the various tenure stakeholders and the communities at large.

The additional habitable space helped to restore dignity to the most vulnerable communities, especially those that were affected by operation Murambatsvina in 2005. The project impacted the lives of 1,879 (11 274 individual beneficiaries).

 


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