Epworth is an informal settlement on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe and is home to 130,000 low-income residents. Due to the informal nature of the settlement, supply of water and other services was not regular and the lack of secure tenure for residents meant that local authorities were reluctant to provide these vital services.
Dialogue on Shelter’s approach to slum upgrading in Epworth involved both communities and local authority representatives via a specially established ‘local board’. Dialogue worked with the community to track and record the number of people in the settlement and their service needs. This information was used to inform and influence the local board and lead to discussions about how issues in the slums could be jointly addressed.
As a result of this work, the Epworth local board agreed to upgrade the settlement in situ, without the need for demolitions or rehousing. This is a highly progressive step and the decision to upgrade in this way is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. The 6,500 families who have lived without secure tenure can now look forward to secure tenure rights and a meaningful role in addressing their community’s issues.
Dialogue on Shelter is now keen to develop the Epworth model in collaboration with the local Federation and other stakeholders to inform upgrading in other poor urban areas and cities throughout Zimbabwe.
Dialogue on Zimbabwe’s work on slum upgrading in Epworth features in the April edition of Environment and Urbanization. Visit the Sage Journals website to read the full article.