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News and Resources

Reviving hope in Zimbabwe

News and Resources

Things were very tough for the housing co-op movement during the past decade of runaway inflation and political violence in Zimbabwe. Very few co-ops were able to continue building. Now, the situation has calmed down considerably. “Prices are very high relative to people’s incomes, but at least the prices of commodities remain the same through the day!” according to ArielKagu, Executive Director, of ZINAHCO - the Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Co-operatives.
On behalf of Rooftops Canada, I recently spent three weeks with ZINAHCO helping them develop a member services program.  Rooftops Canada has supported Zimbabwe’s housing movement since the late 1980s by providing technical expertise, training and resources. ZINACHO is a member controlled umbrella organization which represents 112 housing cooperatives with over 6,500 active members. The co-ops need lots of help, but there are three things that will make a big difference.
First, given the high cost of building materials, $11 for one bag of cement, progress can be very slow, especially for small co-ops. Loans for building materials can get the houses built faster, which means that members can move in sooner, and even rent out rooms to bring in some revenue. “We have provided loans to three co-ops so far. We would like to provide many more”, said Mike Duru,  ZINAHCO’s Chairperson.
Second, advocacy is needed to secure land from the local councils. Co-ops are also dependent on the council for building permits, infrastructure, and approval to use alternative building materials. There are many problems and delays - things get bogged down in bureaucratic red tape. ZINAHCO staff members help support the co-ops to get things unstuck.
Finally, ZINAHCO provides advice, information and training. Housing l co-ops face a high learning curve on everything from construction costs to co-op organization. The future of co-op housing in Zimbabwe is brighter as the movement’s apex organization gets stronger.  Rooftops Canada will continue to assist ZINAHCO to build up its capacity to deliver services and represent the housing co-op movement.
To assist ZINAHCO  or other Rooftops Canada partners,  please visit www.rooftops.ca and click on the "Donate Today" button. Your contribution can also be made by cheque and mailed to 720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 313, Toronto, ON, M5S 2T9.


By Eliza Moore