Slum upgrading and inclusive municipal governance in Harare, Zimbabwe: New perspectives for the urban poor

Davison Muchadenyika in Habitat International, Volume 48, August 2015. 

The story of the urban poor in Harare and Zimbabwean cities in general is a story of evictions, fear and misery. In May 2005, at the behest of the Government of Zimbabwe the infamous Operation Restore Order, a house demolition campaign, left more than 700 thousand people homeless. Nearly a decade later, there are increased opportunities for improvement and change in the lives of the urban poor in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city.

The purpose of the paper is to present how the Harare Slum Upgrading Programme is creating and strengthening municipal and community partnerships to tackle city challenges in an inclusive manner. This research indicates the housing struggles of the urban poor and the emerging City-community engagement in urban services provision (water, sanitation, tenure security and roads) and changing municipal attitudes towards the urban poor. In particular, the article presents participatory urban planning and development, slum upgrading institutional structure, profiling and enumeration, and slum upgrading impacts (resilience of the urban poor, living in slums without fear, expansive pool of beneficiaries, review of planning regulations and land ownership) as major issues promoting inclusive municipal governance. Inclusivity is implemented through incremental development, which is allowing people to settle on land first and access municipal services gradually over time. Two main factors explain such positive steps towards inclusive governance in Harare. First are indications of gradual institutional change in which the City of Harare’s governance culture is changing through ‘opening up’ and embracing the urban poor. Second, over the years, the urban poor have built a strong and vibrant alliance which is acting as a medium of participation in City governance. The paper concludes that slum upgrading sustainability at city-wide level requires active City participation and institutionalisation as opposed to a project based approach. Lastly, addressing concerns of the urban poor is susceptible to political contestations, requiring strong impartiality to counter such forces.

Available online via Habitat International [sub required]

Image via Sokwanele – Zimbabwe.


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Habitat International
Year 2015
Author(s) Davison Muchadenyika
DOI 10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.03.003
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One Response to “Slum upgrading and inclusive municipal governance in Harare, Zimbabwe: New perspectives for the urban poor”

  1. Kaushik Mhta

    It is very unfortunate to know that people were forcefully evicted and living in slum since then. City administration and people at large should provide solution to this. It seems that the availability of land for slum housing is not an issue.Fund can also be augmented provided city governance and National Government take it as their priority . I am sure slum people will be looking for addressing their basic issues Home, Employment and safety be met with.


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