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News and Resources

Co-op housing makes a difference in Zimbabwe


News and Resources

By ZINAHCO and Rooftops Canada

 

Since mid-2012 when the Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO) secured capital funding, members have been working overtime digging foundations, raising walls and roofing core houses. Six hundred households have already moved into these two-room starter homes, under construction in all parts of the country, and another 500 families are scheduled to move in by the end of the year.

 

One of these households is headed by Chemedzai, a recently widowed mother of three sons and a member of the Kushinga Housing Cooperative in Chiredzi, 433 km southeast of Harare. Chemedzai and her family used to rent a single room, but each evening the children would have go over to their uncle’s place to sleep. Chemedzai’s life changed in February 2013 when the family moved into a newly built house. Her husband was very ill but the two rooms as well as a bathroom with a toilet made a huge difference in their lives. The shame of sending her children away each night ended and the larger space and amenities made it easier to care for her husband. The privacy of the new home afforded the family the dignity of receiving the many well-wishers who came to visit her husband. When he passed away in June 2013 the family mourned but was able face the future with the comforting knowledge that he had left them with a home.

 

Chemedzai is clear and confident when she declares, “With freedom from the nagging landlords I no longer feel vulnerable.” She now has the space and freedom in her co-op to raise chickens and operate a small retail business that is producing a steady income.

 

This is just one example of many where co-op housing has changed people’s lives in Zimbabwe.

 

Two ZINAHCO representatives will attend the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada’s AGM in Ottawa in June. They’ll be sharing their experiences and plans as they meet with cooperators from across Canada. And they’ll take some of our best practices back to Zimbabwe to continue building their movement and providing new housing to thousands of families like Chemedzai’s.