Eccentric housing finance sources by the urban poor in Zimbabwe: case of Cowdray Park low-income self help housing scheme in Bulawayo
Zimbabwe has a sombre housing crisis in all its urban centres. All attempts by the government to vary housing delivery systems to ameliorate the problem have proved futile as the backlog it inherited from the colonial masters continues to soar. The situation has however been exacerbated by 2005 demolitions and evictions in the country’s major cities that destroyed homes and businesses leaving the majority of the poor and disadvantaged segments of society in deeper poverty, deprivation and destitution. The main challenge to housing the urban poor is housing finance. Public funds are meagre and private funds are not accessible to the poor due to lack of collateral security and inability to service the loans. Fascinatingly, the poor’s income comes from informal sector activities that absorbs a large percentage of the labour force and keeps the economy going while the large modern enterprises continue to reel under the economic downturn. Unfortunately the Zimbabwean informal sector has generally been perceived as a nuisance, a haven for criminals and a menace. Evidence shows that there is a strong relationship between the urban poor’s housing finance, informal sector activities and self-help housing strategies in Zimbabwe. In the pre-2005 Operation Murambatsvina era, the poor were making some construction progress as evidenced by the structures that had developed. This paper calls for active support and facilitation of the poor’s sources of income, and advocates for the involvement of other players such as the private sector and the international community in housing the poor. The Zimbabwe government’s plan to house the homeless and poor on its 250 000 stands countrywide through self-help programmes can only be successful if their sources of income are promoted and facilitated.
Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
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