This is my third mission to Africa on behalf of Rooftops Canada. I am visiting two partners, the Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO) in Harare, Zimbabwe and WAT-Human Settlements Trust in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The trip is a follow-up on my work helping partners to develop transparent accounting systems and good financial practices. I am also interested in seeing local housing co-ops/groups.
ZINAHCO is an umbrella organization made up of over 140 housing cooperatives with 9,000 active members.
I was fortunate this time to make a side trip to Victoria Falls and visit some housing co-ops. As you can see from the photos, the homes are a traditional half a block home with the opportunity as funds become available to complete them step by step. The bricks are handmade on site and some sweat equity is involved. In addition, there are vegetable gardens in almost every home. The maize, the staple of their diet, for this time of the year is very small. November and December were very dry and water supplies were depleted.
With January’s rains the gardens are rising quickly. Urban agriculture is the way of the future but these small gardens have elephants as an adversary. Elephants have a nose for figuring out when the maize is ripe and tear through the gardens every fall eating the maize left on the stalk and other vegetables. And I complain about rabbits and tiny Vancouver Island deer munching on my garden’s flowers!
ZINAHCO has added new staff since my last visit in July. The gender balance is now equal in the office and it was a pleasure to meet the four new women. They include Pamela, the Finance Officer (shown in the picture); Florence, PA to the E.D.; Tariro, Training and Development; Thembinkosi, Loans Officer, soon along with Elizabeth, Advocacy and Information Officer from maternity leave. I will post more news on WAT-HST next time. I can’t wait to see the changes since last summer. One of the sites I visited then now has 29 completed homes.
Till then, Patricia Sibley
(The puppy was a Christmas gift from my grandson to keep me company in Africa and remind me of my dog Goldie, who died last spring.)