Challenges in the Provision of Affordable and Decent Housing for Low Income Earners: The Case of Harare City Council in Zimbabwe

Challenges in the Provision of Affordable and Decent Housing for Low Income Earners: The Case of Harare City Council in Zimbabwe

Jeffrey Kurebwa
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.2020070102
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This study sought to understand the challenges in the provision of affordable and decent housing for low income earners in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare. Various challenges relating to housing provision were identified by the research participants. These related to regulatory barriers, lack of political will and commitment, financial challenges, lack of inter-agency coordination. The study concludes that provision of low-income housing remains a big challenge in Harare, which calls for a multi-sectoral approach to address. The study relied on qualitative methodology. Research participants were drawn from Harare City Council, the private sector non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government officials, and residents.
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Harare city is the capital of Zimbabwe with a population of over 2 million people. The province is currently facing a number of challenges related to massive rural-urban migration, poverty, rapid population growth and urbanisation resulting in stress on residential and infrastructure services. The provision of land for housing is failing to keep pace with population increase. This has resulted in the shortage of affordable accommodation. This is a result of factors related to poverty, lack of resources and inaccessibility to formal institutional hosing loans for lower income earners. This has an increase in the uncontrolled growth of unregistered housing cooperatives, squatter camps and other forms of informal settlements.

The provision of affordable and decent housing is further exacerbated by speculative tendencies in the financial sector, high land value and an ineffective housing policy. The Government of Zimbabwe has recognised access to adequate housing as a fundamental human right, and in support of this, the country has ratified a number of international treaties, and nationally has initiated different housing policy measures, strategies and extended housing support in various projects for low-income people since independence in 1980. However, the challenges of decent and affordable housing for low income earners remain a challenge. In some cases, the Government has not been actively involved leaving the allocation of housing land to the city councils and housing cooperatives and land barons. Provision of housing by the government has been described as a ‘quick fix supply-side intervention’ that does not improve the long-term functioning of housing delivery to moderate and low-income households (Hoek- Smit, 1998).

There is not much research focusing on the low-income group and different housing provisions based on their real affordability. Nahiduzzaman (2012) in his research showed that with respect to housing the poor have a considerable amount of financial capability. There is need for government intervention so that the financial capability of the poor can be capitalised for different housing provisions. Hossain (2004), in his research showed that about 28 percent of the urban poor were members of different community-based cooperatives, political groups or voluntary organisations. Both these studies not only reflect on community’s strong sense of organisation and micro-governance in forming community-based cooperatives but also willingness and potential capabilities to generate additional income (Nahiduzzaman, 2012).

Thus, due to lack of a systematic administrative and legal framework with little involvement of the beneficiaries, most housing initiatives for the low-income group of people so far have failed. The city council and private partners have been accused of having a lack of complete knowledge of the actual financial ability of the urban poor, the strength and potentials of systematic community-based cooperative business and housing re-location decisions. This fundamental lack of knowledge precludes the housing stakeholders from taking the right decisions to achieve affordable low-income housing. These deficiencies have led to low-income housing projects that have barely benefited the urban poor, benefiting other income groups instead. Community participation in development projects is increasingly being considered as key component for better project outcomes and for empowerment of marginalised participants from the local community. Community participation is claimed to have the potential to combine efficiency with equity’ (UN-ECOSOC, 2007).

Purpose of the Study

This study sought to understand the challenges that Harare City Council is facing in the provision of affordable and decent housing for low income earners.


  • 1.

    To identify challenges in the provision of affordable and decent housing;

  • 2.

    To identify the current approached in address the lack of housing for low income earners;

  • 3.

    To examine the measures being taken to improve provision of housing to low income earners.


Literature Review

This section focuses on the various approaches and models to decent and affordable housing.

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